Disney announced three major new Web intiatives today, starting with the free ad-supported streaming of four of the top TV shows on Disney-owned ABC. The company also announced a new soap opera site and broadband sites just for kids.
ABC will stream four of its shows, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Alias, and Commander In Chief, for free on its Website for a two-month trial period, from May to the end of June. Users will be able to watch current episodes of Housewives, Lost, and Commander, while the entire current season of Alias will be available for viewing.
All of the shows, save for Alias, are already available as $1.99 downloads at Apple's iTunes store, but this marks the first time current episodes will be availabe for free, with commercials. The shows will be presented in a 16x9 cinema format, and users will be able to skip back and forth between the chapters of an episode. However, users won't be able to fast-forward through the ads like they do with a DVR.
"We have said all along that we are dedicated to finding ways to bring our advertiser partners along with us as we embrace new ways of doing business in the world of digital media," said Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing at ABC.
The corporate sponsors for the initiative are AT&T;, Cingular Wireless, Ford Motors, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Pictures.
Disney also said it's expanding its Soapnet site into Soapnetica, an always-on broadband channel dedicated to soap fans. The site launches on April 17, 2006, so as soon as taxes are finished users can relax with their favorite soap.
For kids, Disney Channel and Jetix launch the broadband sites DisneyChannel.com and Jetix.tv later this year. The ad-supported sites will offer streams of full, current episodes of That's So Raven, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, and other shows, as well as bonus materials related to the shows.