ABC made headlines when the company started selling popular TV show episodes on iTunes. Now they will be offering the same episodes for free on the ABC.com Web site, as part of a two-month trial. Like the iTunes offerings, the shows will be available the day after they air on broadcast. Unlike the iTunes versions — which are commercial-free — the free episodes will include advertising that cannot be skipped during their streaming playback.
This is an interesting experiment, and I expect that it will be a success right alongside the iTunes offerings. When you buy from iTunes, you skip the commercials, and you download the episode so that you can watch it on portable devices. The free versions have commercials, and are presented as streaming video so you have to be connected to the Internet to watch them. It sounds like a good trade-off, and I expect that there will be plenty of viewers who prefer one or the other.
The big story here is that a major television network (owned by Disney) is pursuing not one but two modes of Internet distribution for their content. This tells me that the move to IPTV is happening a lot faster than I had anticipated.