Disney is to launch ABC TV On Demand in the UK on BT Vision's IPTV platform. ABC TV On Demand is intended to provide a catalogue of ABC Studios shows to BT Vision customers. From launch in September, he catalogue will be included within BT Vision's TV Pack (priced at £6.99 per month), with episodes also available on a transactional basis at 99p per episode to BT Vision customers not taking the TV pack.
Whether the ABC brand will be well known enough to direct consumers into the catalogue is unclear, with Disney more likely to be relying on the strength of the individual shows (which will include past series of hits such as Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy) to drive viewership. Disney has also retained post-broadcast window rights, allowing it to place new series of its shows into ABC On Demand, once the series has finished its first broadcast run on UK TV.
The ABC On Demand launch on BT Vision is likely to be a test case for Disney. The strategy of launching an on-demand service, as opposed to a linear channel, mirrors that of Warner, which has launched its Warner TV VoD service on multiple pay-TV platforms across Europe. Both companies have significant businesses selling their top shows, distributed via their linear channels in the US, to third parties (generally the key national broadcasters) in Europe. While the launch of a linear channel is an option for the studios, and is an approach taken by CBS, a channel launch is a significant investment and also has the potential to undermine relationships the US companies might enjoy with key European broadcasters. A VoD service is a lower investment option and less likely to have a negative effect on existing revenue streams. Indeed the availability of past series on VoD has actually been shown to improve viewership of the new series on linear TV. If the launch goes well and is received positively by BT Vision subscribers, further launches across Europe are on the cards.
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