As part of a larger programming agreement announced earlier
this year with Comcast, Disney/ABC Television Group is launching three new
authenticated apps for Comcast subscribers -- Watch Disney Channel, Watch
Disney XD and Watch Disney Junior -- that will be available on the iPhone, iPad
and iPod Touch beginning Wednesday.
Albert Cheng, executive VP and chief product officer of
digital media at the Disney/ABC Television Group, discussed the new
authenticated apps at a session at the Banff World Media Festival and in an
interview with B&C at Banff.
The launches are notable because they highlight the ongoing
shift in business strategies towards TV Everywhere deals, where the digital
distribution of content is tied to larger multichannel deals that give
subscribers preferred access to content.
When the new apps launch on Comcast, the MSO's subscribers
using the free apps will have access to a linear live feed as well as a large
amount of VOD content that will become available a day after the episodes air
on the channels.
Non-authenticated subscribers can also download and use the
free apps but they will have access to a much more limited collection of
While Thursday's announcement concerned the kid's channels, Cheng
noted that the company was in similar discussions to make content for all its
networks, including ABC, available as part of larger TV Everywhere deals.
Windows for that content might vary for those kids apps, but
they would generally offer authenticated subscriber access to content sooner
than non-authenticated subscribers.
"We are doing the kids networks first, but this is where we
are heading in the future," he said in an interview. "It is a question of
getting the deals in place."
Cheng noted that the TV Everywhere deals had a distinct
advantage for the TV industry because it created a dual revenue stream of
advertising and frees from the operators. "We are being compensated for the
rights," he said during a Q&A session at Banff, which saw increased
attendance this year to over 2,500 TV executives around the world.
The apps are also notable because the company is billing the
launch as a first time an entertainment network will offer users both a live
and on-demand content as part of authenticated app.
CNN has launched a linear live feed as well as on demand
content as part of its TV Everywhere deals and some sports networks like ESPN
have launched live authenticated feeds. But until now, entertainment networks
like TNT, HBO and others had only offered on demand content as part of their
In an interview at Banff, Kelly J. Peña, senior VP Disney
Channels Worldwide Research, noted that they had done extensive research before
launching the apps and that comments from kids about the value of a live feed
had convinced them to offer both a live and VOD content.
She noted that the kids didn't want to miss any of the live
episodes their friends might see on the channels.
The company also did extensive research to streamline the
user interface and the authentication process.
When launched, the apps will give Comcast's Xfinity TV
customers access to episodes from such series as Good Luck Charlie, Shake It
Up, Phineas and Ferb, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates from
Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.