Broadcast affiliates are hosed (again)

The Wall St. Journal headline says it all:

ABC Sees Success in iPad App

ABC is the only network (so far) offering ad-supported free television viewing via the iPad.

The network said that in the 10 days since the iPad’s debut, its TV-show watching app has been downloaded 205,000 times, giving the Walt Disney Co. unit a presence on nearly half the 450,000 devices that Apple says it has sold. Moreover, users have watched at least part of 650,000 television episodes using the app, generating “several million” ad impressions, according to an ABC spokesman, although the precise number is still being calculated.

Disney-ABC television President Anne Sweeney says the network is pleased with the initial results.

Well, of course she’s bloody well pleased. It’s called cutting out the middle man person, in this case local broadcasters. I’ve been predicting this for years, because our hyperconnected world is able to route around blocks, which is good news for some and not so good news for others. Here, ABC is able to leapfrog broadcasters in delivering programs directly to consumers in their markets.

The affiliates will challenge this by asking for a cut of the revenue, but we know what ABC will tell them. It’s just a matter of time, folks. What will affiliates do without network programming or with fragments of an audience? That’s the kind of question that drives media execs to Ambien (or worse).

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