ABC and AOL team up for free prime-time shows

Walt Disney's ABC and Time Warner's AOL have teamed up to offer free, full-length prime-time shows, part of a growing move.

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The entertainment industry has an aura of oozing with creativity, originality and all those things that seem, well, magical.

ABC's free prime-time shows will include 'Ugly Betty.' ABC

But when one of the players comes out with a blockbuster idea, especially on the business operations front, it's like watching a flock of geese take off. One leads the pack, the others follow. The formation may not always be perfectly aligned, but they're all headed in the same general direction.

The Walt Disney Co.'s Disney-ABC Television Group announced a deal with Time Warner's AOL today that calls for ABC to offer free, full-length prime-time episodes online a day after they premiere. ABC's free prime-time shows, which will begin appearing on AOL Video today, will include the likes of The Bachelor, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. Users will be able to view about four episodes per TV series at any one time.

As noted in a blog by David Kaplan on paidcontent.org, ABC is making a move to syndicate its prime-time shows online, much like CBS.

And ABC's free-prime-time-show announcement follows one made by NBC Universal a day earlier, in which NBC said it tuned in to the concept of offering free downloadable TV shows. NBC's Wednesday announcement said it would offer ad-supported prime time shows, such as The Office and Heroes, that could be downloaded after they aired and remain on users' computers for seven days before virtually vaporizing, according to a report in The New York Times.

NBC's recent plans were spurred after a fallout with Apple that pushed the media company into a deal with Amazon, for its paid shows.

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