ABC/Disney (DIS) is making big changes to its Web video player starting this fall. The company, which has kept a tight lid on its video content on the Web, will add an embedding function, which will allow anyone to clip and post full episodes on their own sites or blogs.
It’s a change in strategy for ABC, which until now has limited the distribution if TV shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost” to ABC.com, AOL Video or the sites of local ABC stations. The new player also ads search functions for other ABC shows, closed captioning, and full-screen viewing.
The redesigned player, which borrows some design cues from Apple’s iTunes (AAPL), will help ABC keep up with NBC-News Corp. (NWS) joint venture Hulu, which took a far more permissive approach to video distribution. Hulu, which launched to the public in March, allows users to embed full episodes or just snippets, which can be embedded and watched without advertising. ABC isn’t going that far, and requires that full episodes be watched with unskippable advertising.
Hulu spent almost nothing on promotion and has already become a top-10 video site. The embedding function should make ABC’s content more ubiquitous, which will translate into more video views and ad impressions. We expect CBS, which distributes video widely but also has not allowed embedding, to soon follow suit.
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