As previously reported
, US TV network ABC
has now launched an updated version of its ABC Player app, now known as Watch ABC
. Version 3.0 of the app (free) now offers users in New York City and Philadelphia the ability to view a live stream of programming, making it the first network iOS app to do so. Plans are underway to bring the service to at least six further markets where ABC owns local stations directly over the summer, with Hearst-owned stations in another 13 markets gaining the live stream option later this year.
The company mentions in its release notes for the new Watch ABC update that the service will be unrestricted for the time being, but starting July 1 users will need to verify that they are customers of an eligible local cable system in order to continue the live video access. ABC has said that the app is iOS-only for now, but will eventually reach other platforms later this year.
When announced, the president of ABC called the live feed "a brave move" that would leap ahead of where most broadcasters are in terms of providing mobile services to their viewers. The updated app is also an attempt to head off Aereo
, a company that has been rebroadcasting live over-the-air local television to select markets through its subscription-based app, and demonstrating a strong demand for such a service. Several attempts to sue Aereo out of business have been unsuccessful
, which may prompt other broadcasters to follow ABC's route.