Next TV: Disney/ABC TV Group’s Cheng—Watch ABC Is a Simple Solution to Industry Problem

App unifies advertising, network and affiliates

Santa Monica, Calif. — Disney/ABC Television Group wants to demystify TV everywhere through the Watch ABC app, letting the industry know that solutions aren’t out of reach.

“We were really trying to solve industry wide problems,” said JR Grant, VP product and technology, digital media for Disney/ABC Television Group. “How do we really take TV everywhere and put it in everybody’s hands?”

Grant, who spoke at a panel Tuesday at B&C and Multichannel News' Next TV Summit, was joined on stage by Albert Cheng, executive VP and chief product officer, digital media for Disney/ABC Television Group; Ralf Jacob, chief revenue officer of Verizon Media Services; Melissa Roberts, general manager of enterprise solutions, FreeWheel; Lisa Willet, VP of digital ad sales, ABC national television sales, Disney/ABC Television Group; and moderator and Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner, who fielded the session's questions.

ABC and its partners were able to make Watch ABC work by making the app completely cloud based, Cheng said.

By using the cloud, television content can be uploaded and then tailored to each app user based on their demographics.

“For us, Watch ABC has been an extension of that TV experience” making digital now addressable, said FreeWheel’s Roberts.

Cheng told the packed room that the team is constantly looking at distribution and new ways to distribute the product. But at the end of the day, he added they want to figure out how to maximize their assets. 

One company asset that is finding success with the app is station affiliates.

All affiliates need to get up and running with Watch ABC is the software and maybe a few email exchanges, Grant said.

Once stations upload their content to the cloud, they don’t have much else to worry about.

Willet added that the system allows advertisers to pick and choose what content they want their ads to accompany. She cited Penn State, specifically, as wanting to advertise with ABC but not wanting to be associated with certain series, such as Scandal.