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ABC teams up with cable providers to restrict what you watch online

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There was a time not so long ago that if you missed an episode of “Nashville” or ABC’s only soap opera “General Hospital” you could go to ABC.com and watch that episode just a few hours or the next day after it aired. As of January 6, 2014 that is no longer true. If you go to ABC.com and try to watch a recently aired show, you will encounter a large rectangular yellow button asking you to confirm your location or verify your subscription. ABC has restricted access to TV shows that have recently aired. To view an episode of “Nashville” or “General Hospital” that has aired within one week; you must first verify your subscription to one of several pay TV service providers. The system known as TV Everywhere allows subscribers to particular cable channels access to their online content. The system authenticates the subscription through the service provider using a username and password. Once it is verified that the username is associated with a subscription with that channel, you’ll then have access to content either on you PC or other supported mobile devices.

To access new content on Watch ABC; you must be a subscriber of the following pay TV service providers:

  • AT&T U-verse
  • Cablevision Optimum
  • Charter
  • Comcast XFINITY
  • Cox Communications
  • Google Fiber
  • Midcontinent
  • Verizon FiOS

ABC.com isn’t the only place you’ll find restrictions on the network’s content. Hulu no longer allows free viewing of new ABC content. To watch the most recent episodes that have aired within one week, you must be a Hulu Plus subscriber. Some ABC shows are also available and can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon’s video on-demand.

While all content released within one week is only accessible by pay TV subscribers on ABC.com, non-subscribers can still access content older than one week. ABC posted an explanation for its change in policy. The network posted on ABC.com,

Pay TV service providers are a key part of the television industry in delivering broadcast content through new technology platforms. Now, with the support of participating pay TV service providers, the ABC network is able to continue to bring live entertainment, news and sports programming on a national and local level as well as the latest on-demand episodes on new, emerging digital platforms at no additional cost to their subscribers. This approach also allows ABC to offer several on-demand episodes that are available to everyone.

The changes at ABC.com also include a new feature that is available in select cities. In markets where the local affiliate is an ABC Owned & Operated station, pay TV subscribers also have access to live TV streaming from their PCs or mobile devices. With this feature the same television feed from the local station you would see on your TV is streamed to your PC or supported mobile device. ABC’s live streaming is only available in Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco.

So far ABC is the only broadcast network to implement the TV Everywhere authentication. Will any of the other networks fall in as well?

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