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ABC Joins Live TV Streaming Parade

Jumping on the TV Everywhere bandwagon, the Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC Television Group will start streaming live TV shows online to pay-TV subscribers in New York and Philadelphia Tuesday. The new authenticated multi-screen video service, dubbed Watch ABC, will be available on the Web at ABC.com. ABC will also offer it through mobile apps for Apple Inc. iOS devices and Amazon's Kindle Fire. An Android app for Samsung Galaxy devices is scheduled to launch this summer. The news from ABC is the latest in a series of announcements that are defining 2013 as the breakout year for live TV streaming online. Most TV Everywhere services still center on on-demand video, but the rise of live streaming is evident in recent product updates from both technology vendors and cable operators. New video publishing systems highlight support for live streaming, and both Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. have already introduced access to select linear TV programming even outside their subscribers' homes. (See thePlatform Places Live TV Bet, Adobe Primetime Debuts with Comcast, NBC Sports and Time Warner Takes TV on the Road.) From a business standpoint, the Watch ABC app makes it clear that broadcasters see mobile video streaming as an added-value service for paying TV viewers. After an initial "open access preview" that will last through June, the app will be available only to authenticated subscribers of such pay-TV providers as Comcast Corp., Cablevision, Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Midcontinent Communications and AT&T Inc.'s U-verse. Aereo Inc., which pays no licensing fees to ABC, offers the same mobile access to ABC content. But Aereo, which just streamlined its pricing structure as it gets set to launch service in Boston on Wednesday, is facing a serious legal fight over the right to do so. Plans call for Aereo, which started in New York City, to expand to at least a dozen other major markets this year if it can stave off the court challenges. (See See Aereo Suited Up to Disrupt Pay TV.) For its part, ABC plans to roll out the new Watch ABC service in six other ABC-owned station markets this summer, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco. It has also signed a deal with Hearst Television to launch the service in that company’s 13 TV markets and is working to negotiate access in other affiliate markets in the near future. — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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