ABC/WB Online Distribution Deal: Streaming vs. Sales


Disney’s (DIS) ABC and Time Warner’s (TWX) Warner Brothers studio have a new online distribution pact for Internet rights on WB shows aired by ABC. Plenty of details in this Variety story, but the upshot is that ABC will get to stream WB shows it airs and keep all ad revenue, for the first year. (Pushing Daisies is the fall show people seem most interested in.) Then WB can sell the shows itself via download or any other format, including DVD.

You’ll see a series of these deals roll out in the near future, as the networks and their content providers struggle to figure out Internet rights for the shows once they’ve been broadcast. It’s a work in progress — even this pact is described as an “experiment.” But at least it’s a provocative one: ABC is betting that the rights to stream shows are more valuable then the rights to sell them via download. That’s an interesting bet coming from a company whose largest single shareholder is iTunes storeowner Steve Jobs.