The New York Times reports that ABC will become the first network to live stream its local programming to users of its Watch ABC app starting this week. Beginning in New York and Philadelphia, the apps will receive a "live" button that allows viewers to tune in to live programming on their mobile devices. ABC's move to live mobile TV follows an ongoing row between broadcast TV companies and streaming startup Aereo, after Aereo received a court victory allowing it to connect viewers to over-the-air broadcasts on web-connected devices. In response to Aereo, CBS invested in a streaming company called Syncbak, but ABC will be the first to strike with live service to mobile devices.
As Variety reports, the live streaming service will only be available to customers who subscribe to pay-TV providers, and will be required to authenticate their accounts to access live TV.
ABC is working to bring live mobile TV to more than 200 markets in the coming months
ABC will eventually bring the live feature to six additional cities sometime this summer, and is reportedly in talks with affiliates to bring the functionality in more than 200 additional markets; NYT reports that ABC today completed a deal with Hearst Television to bring live streams in its 13 markets, including Boston and Pittsburgh, in "the coming months." It's not clear if there will be any limitations on the programs that viewers can receive, but the Times indicates that they will be able to tune in to shows like "Good Morning America" as well as basketball games. Users will continue to be able to watch ABC shows on demand through the app.
Because the Nielsen Company is unable to measure mobile viewing of live television, ABC's live streams will carry specialized digital ads like those shown on ABC.com, the Times reports. "We keep a very close eye on consumer demand," Disney / ABC Television Group co-chairwoman Anne Sweeney told the Times. "We watch how people are behaving with the devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster."