Free video is out and revenue models are in at ABCNews.com. ABC News last week launched a new $4.95-per-month broadband service that will allow viewers to watch streamed versions of World News Tonight With Peter Jennings
along with Nightline, Nightline UpClose and other news content, on a delayed basis. Visitors to the Web site will no longer find free video news clips.
"I see this as part of establishing a dual-revenue-stream model for the business so that we're generating revenue through advertising as well as subscriptions," says Bernie Gershon, senior vice president and general manager, ABCNews.com.
From the ABC site, viewers will be taken to RealNetwork's RealOne site, where they can subscribe to ABC's content à la carte or subscribe to RealOne's SuperPass for $9.95 a month. ABC News has offered newscasts as part of the SuperPass for the past nine months the morning after the live broadcast.
Gershon says the Internet will still be important as a promotional vehicle for the over-the-air news content. But the challenge facing streaming companies is the financial imperative to provide high-quality content at high-quality bandwidth. The subscription model is the only way to successfully offset those costs.
"I think that Internet users are becoming more understanding of the fact that, if they're going to receive high-quality content or additional services like an expanded mailbox from their ISP, that they're going to have to pay more for that," explains Gershon. "It's very much like the cable-TV model."
A new feature is an archive of the previous 30 days of programming. Gershon says it will be searchable by keyword or text. Work is also being done to make text, maps and other interactive content related to the video available.
"We're looking to get those folks who can't get to a TV set at 6:30 at night a chance to watch the newscast on a delayed basis," says Gershon. "I think it'll probably be a long time before we're simulcasting our content on the Internet. We certainly don't want to conflict with the primary broadcast of these programs."
Other content includes Good Morning America
interviews and music performances, excerpts from ABC News specials, and Internet-exclusive video from Primetime
and 20/20. Sam Donaldson's Live in America
radio program and ABC News Radio hourly newscasts will also be available.