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Cable Operators

Disney Gets on the Go With Its Plans for ‘TV+’

6/20/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Chicago — Disney/ABC Television
Group is looking to make some video magic
for consumers on alternative distribution
platforms.

The group is currently talking to operators
about a subscriber-authenticated
offering for broadcast network ABC
and Disney’s various cable networks that
would allow consumers to watch live network
streams and access popular shows
on demand in an “advantaged” window,
executives said.

While Disney has yet to set a launch date
for its service, tentatively titled TV+, executives
say it could be up and running a few
months after securing operator deals.

LIVE STREAMS

The plan is to offer live stream feeds of
ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney
XD and Disney Junior networks for
consumers to access on computers, smartphones
and tablets such as the Apple iPad,
said Ben Pyne, president of global distribution
for Disney Media Networks.

In April, Disney launched the WatchESPN
app, which provides live access
to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com
on multiple devices.

TV+ also would provide priority access
to multiplatform content in what Pyne
termed an “advantaged window” that
would vary from channel to channel, although
he would not provide specifics.

TV+ would not interrupt current Disney
content streaming via ABC.com or Hulu.com.

“We’ll offer some form of linear stream
on multiple devices — because clearly
that’s the way the world is going — and
some form of advantaged window, so if
you’re a Disney Channel subscriber, you’d
be able to get that content in a very realtime
window,” Pyne said.

“Also there may be some other core
product — whether it’s additional VOD,
other interactive games, certain playlists
— that we could make part of that offering
that would really sing to the audience.”

David Preschlack, executive vice president
of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney
and ESPN Media Networks, said the company
is currently talking to operators about
the service, with no carriage deals signed yet.

He said Disney would be looking for
“fair market value in return for something
that we think has extraordinary
value and we actually think could take
this business to the next level,”
although he would not reveal
specific financial figures.

“It really will enable us to drive
as much value back to multichannel-
video subscription as possible
and it enables us to really participate
guilt-free on the Internet
and on devices,” Preschlack said.

‘WATCH’ IS HOT

He pointed to the popularity
of WatchESPN, which has garnered
2 million downloads since
launching in April, as evidence
consumers want to watch content on various
devices.

Preschlack said Disney is not taking a
“one-size-fits-all” approach to its suite of
authenticated offerings and will tailor services
appropriately to each network’s audience
base.

“I think we’re further along in the lifecycle
of what’s possible with authentication
and I think people’s eyes have been
opened by what’s happened over the past
12 months,” Preschlack said. “People are
beginning to realize that this is where the
business is headed.”

September