The New York Times is reporting that ABC is working on an app to stream live ABC programming to the iPhones and iPads of cable and satellite TV subscribers. ABC, which is a subsidiary of Disney, would become the first American broadcaster to provide a live Internet stream of both national and local programming.
By providing the stream only to those who already pay for cable or satellite TV, the Times notes that ABC “preserves the cable business model that is crucial to the bottom lines of broadcasters, while giving subscribers more of what they seem to want — mobile access to TV shows.”
This isn’t the first time that ABC has taken a giant step away from the home TV — the network was the first to sell TV episodes through iTunes and pioneered streaming free episodes of shows on its website.
Parent company Disney has live streaming and on-demand apps for ESPN and the Disney Channel, but there are some legal barriers to overcome for the ABC app. Many of the contracts signed between ABC and production companies were put into place before mobile video streaming became possible, and local ABC stations might feel threatened by an app.
There’s no word on exactly when the app will arrive in the App Store, but the Times believes that it may become available to some cable and satellite subscribers later in 2013.