Report: ABC working on mobile app for streaming live programming

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Reported by the New York Times today, the Walt Disney company is working on an application for mobile devices that will allow subscribers to watch ABC shows live. Rather than waiting to view the program on Hulu the following day, digital video consumers would be able to watch programming the moment that it airs using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. While this type of programming is free to watch in high definition using a simple antenna and a television, the ability to watch live programming at any location could be extremely popular with consumers dependent on the price of the service.

iphone once upon a timeHowever, details behind the application are light at the moment and ABC has declined to comment on the stage of development. The subscriber would likely have to choose between the East or West coast feed dependent on their location within the United States. The application could hypothetically make streaming content immediately available after it airs, thus preserving the original advertisement slots and offering an experience similar to a DVR. 

Over the years, ABC has been ahead of other networks in regards to offering digital versions of programming. ABC was the first network to make digital copies of television shows available on Apple’s iTunes and launched an application at the launch of the iPad that allows viewers to watch episodes, free of charge, that were supported by advertising.  

While people within ABC indicate the app could launch as early as this year, ABC executives will likely need to navigate around mobile streaming contractual obligations for specific shows as well as details how local station content will be integrated into the application, if at all. Also owned by the Walt Disney company, ESPN launched a similar application during 2011 that allows iPhone or iPad owners to watch live sports. However, users have to be a paid subscriber to the ESPN network through Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks or Verizon FiOS TV in order to access the content.