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ABC just released its updated iOS app, now known as Watch ABC (formerly ABC Player).  We reported that this was in the works yesterday and it’s now being released today.  The broadcast company is the first of the major networks to offer live TV within their app, which has apparently been in the works for well over a year now, but was most likely pushed out the door quicker due the launch of Aereo.

watch-abc-app-homeUnfortunately, while this is a major step forward for the broadcast network, it’s still a limited release.  The “Live TV” feature currently only works in the New York City area and Philadelphia, meaning the solution is clearly not for everyone (yet).  And it likely will remain that way until ABC can figure out how to align the varied interests of studios, cable providers, networks, and affiliate stations.

ABC is working on it though, they are working to ink deals with affiliate stations right now and have signed an agreement to launch the app in Hearst Television’s 13 ABC station markets, which include Boston and Kansas City.  The company also plans to negotiate more affiliate deals by the fall TV season.

Meanwhile, Watch ABC will also launch soon in six other ABC-owned station markets including Los Angeles and Chicago. But a nationwide roll-out will take time.

Another thing of note is that you will still need a cable subscription to get access to the Live TV feature of Watch ABC, which appears to be a trend that isn’t dying anytime soon. Additionally, ABC confirmed that the app won’t air the same commercials as the network does. Instead, the ads will be similar to those shown on ABC.com. Hobson, the ABC rep, noted that “advertisers sometimes license music for commercials that can be aired only on TV and not online, for example.” The commercial break length will be the same on the app and on TV, she added.


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