ABC puts prime time behind a paywall

Michelle Clancy | 03-01-2014

American broadcaster ABC has become the second free-to-air provider to require a pay-TV subscription to access current-week national network content online.

Starting 6 January, exclusive access to ABC episodes within one week of air will be available to subscribers of most major TV service providers, including AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent and Verizon FiOS. Notably absent from the list are Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and DISH Network, but Disney-owned ABC said that it's working to add more providers.

New episodes are also available with a subscription to Hulu Plus, or for purchase on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video. Everyone else can wait a week to watch without signing in.

"Pay-TV service providers are a key part of the television industry in delivering broadcast content through new technology platforms," the company said in its FAQ on the change. "Now, with the support of participating pay-TV service providers, the ABC network is able to continue to bring live entertainment, news and sports programming on a national and local level as well as the latest on-demand episodes on new, emerging digital platforms at no additional cost to their subscribers."

ABC's move follows in the 2011 footsteps of FOX, which moved its fresh content behind a paywall in a nearly identical model, including the Hulu Plus support. Hulu is of course owned by Disney, FOX and NBCUniversal.