ABC is bulking up its digital content with a new slate of original TV series that will only be available to watch online.
The Walt Disney-owned network is launching "a major evolution of its streaming service," including seven original digital short-form TV series, with over 40 more series currently in development, ABC said in a press release on Wednesday. The network's streaming app will also include full seasons of 38 past ABC series, which the network described as "throwback" shows, such as Felicity, My So-Called Life, School House Rock, Sports Night, and Ugly Betty.
The digital content will be available through ABC's apps for mobile devices and connected TV devices, while viewers using Apple iOS mobile devices and Apple TV will have exclusive access to a new, redesigned interface. The content will be free, and viewers don't even need to sign in with a pay TV subscription. "All of this allows us to expand beyond the bounds of our linear schedule and extend ABC storytelling to viewers across screens and platforms," ABC's Senior Vice President of Digital Media, Karin Gilford, said in a statement.
The seven short series initially being offered by ABC include Boondoggle, a comedy starring Modern Family actor Ty Burrell with episodes running mostly between five and seven minutes. Other new digital shows include a comedy called Forever 31, starring comedian Iliza Shlesinger, cooking show Get Cookin', and a series dedicated to personal finance called I Can Find $3,000 In Your Home.
Recode points out that ABC's new digital strategy seems somewhat reminiscent of the networks' previous attempts at generating online traffic with "webisodes," which often featured extra content that spilled over from existing prime-time series. But, ABC is pushing the fact that its new digital series are standalone content developed in-house by the network's comedy, daytime, and digital programming teams. "We hope this will be an opportunity for our existing talent to flex their creative muscles, and also an opportunity for audiences to discover and champion new emerging content creators," Samie Falvey, ABC's Executive Vice President of Comedy and International Scripted Development, said in a statement.