Now You Can Watch Live Local TV on Your iPad (Well, ABC, Anyway)
Starting this afternoon, WPVI—Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate—will stream live online for free to computers and tablets, part of an experiment in bringing broadcast television into the realm of so-called “cord cutters.” That means soap operas, the local news, prime time, Jimmy Kimmel: You can watch all of it as it airs, instead of waiting until the next morning to watch on Hulu or buy from iTunes.
As Joe DiStefano notes at Philly.com, this effort—which runs through the end of June—seems designed to pre-empt Aereo, a fledgling service that promises to deliver all channels of live local broadcast TV to a user’s computer or iPad, without a cable subscription. That would let Philadelphia viewers view the major networks, public television, and more for $8 a month: Much cheaper than most cable plans. Broadcasters are fighting Aereo’s plans in court, but ABC’s new effort means they may find a way to reach customers directly instead.
At the end of the run, ABC says it plans to make the live stream available to “authenticated users,” in both Philadelphia and New York, the first cities where the service is being offered. The company didn’t define what counts as an “authenticated” user, but did note that it has agreements in place across the country with a number of cable providers, including Comcast, suggesting that users may have to be cable customers to access the service ovr the long term.
Viewers can access “WATCH ABC” on laptop and desktop computers at ABC.com; they can download a new “Watch ABC” app for their iOS or Kindle Fire devices. The app will be available for Samsung Galaxy devices this summer.