ABC Family weans consumers off free content with app overhaul


ABC Family’s new app

ABC Family isupping itscommitment tomobile with a major revamp of its application that feeds into a bigger new strategy cutting off non-subscribers from watching digital content for free.

The new Watch ABC Family app follows the launch of thebroadcasters Watch ABC app last May. In addition, the family-geared network will begin requiring that consumers authenticate their cable subscription across any device to watch television shows.

The launch of Watch ABC Family is part of a larger initiative from Disney/ABC Television Group, said Charissa Gilmore, vice president of digital media program management at Disney/ABC Television Group, Burbank, CA.

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All of our Watch services reflect an evolution in our broader authenticated viewing strategy, she said. The Watch live stream is a great alternative for the fan who doesnt want to miss their favorite show, but is on the go or cant access their television set.

Stream on mobile
The Watch ABC Family app is available for iOS and several Android-powered tablets, including the Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy tablets.

The live streaming portion of the app follows in the footsteps of a recent push from ABC to expand the digital distribution of its content.

By the end of the month, the ABC Family app will also be available for BlackBerry, Windows 8 devices and select Android smartphones.

Consumers can download it and log-in with their subscription information to authenticate streaming content.

ABC Family’s new iPad app

The app segments content by show name, and consumers can find episodes by filtering the results to only show popular or recent episodes.

Viewers can also view a schedule that shows the air times for different programs.

From there, consumers can watch live programming on the network at any time of the day.

Additionally, ABC more broadly is changing the way that consumers catch-up on episodes of their favorite shows.

Now, only ABC subscribers can access shows the day after they air. Previously, ABC offered free next-day viewing to all digital viewers.

Subscribers can log-in with their information to the Watch ABC Family and Watch ABC apps to unlock content. Additionally, consumers can log-in through and to view their favorite shows the day after airing. 

Otherwise, viewers without an ABC or ABC Family subscription can watch new shows eight days after they air via the broadcasters’ apps and sites.

While the decision to only offer mobile and digital content to subscribers may cause a dip in viewers in the short-term, limiting content to only subscribers points to the greater monetization strategy from ABC.

With a growing audience, particularly with ABC Family’s millennial demographic that heavily rely on smartphones and tablets to watch content, ABC is taking steps to eventually increase its number of subscribers.

Mobile-first mentality
ABC has been making a big push into mobile outside of basic streaming in the past year, too.

In May, ABC became the first network to test a new type of measurement tool from Nielsen that tracks ABCs mobile demographic inside mobile apps and sites (see story). 

Additionally, the news network has been throwing a lot of weight into the ABC News app.

For example, ABC News recently revamped a push notification strategy for the app. As a result of sending out personalized news messages, smartphones are accounting for up to 80 percent of overall consumption (see story). 

Additionally, ABC is rolling out responsive design to all of its sites.

ABC Family and all the Disney/ABC Television Group networks are committed to delivering high-quality content experiences on mobile devices, Ms. Gilmore said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

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