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Disney’s ABC Affiliates Deal Paves the Way for Live Streaming

Walt Disney’s new deal with more than 160 of its local affiliate stations makes it more likely that you will be able to see an online live-stream of your local ABC channel.

Announced on Monday, Disney’s new deal allows the media giant’s Disney-ABC Television Group unit to negotiate new streaming deals on behalf of ABC’s local broadcast affiliates. In a press release, Disney said the deal is part of the company’s Clearinghouse initiative, which allows ABC affiliates to “opt into pre-negotiated agreements for digital distribution of their live, linear feeds, as well as potential opportunities for local VOD distribution.”

As such, many of those more than 160 ABC affiliates will now allow over-the-top services such as AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and Google’s YouTube TV to stream ABC affiliate live broadcasts in local markets across the United States. Disney said the deal means that roughly 90% of all TV households in the U.S. will soon be able to stream live ABC local broadcasts, either through the ABC app (which requires a cable subscription) or through a streaming service subscription, if they are not already available.

“We are committed to digital distribution solutions that benefit the local/national relationship and the value it brings to consumers, so this is a real win for us, our affiliates and our video partners,” said Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood, who previously announced the Clearinghouse initiative last year.

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Disney’s deal follows a similar agreement announced earlier this month between Comcast’s NBCUniversal and its local NBC broadcast affiliates. In addition to the growing list of over-the-top streaming services, these deals are also seen as helping to pave the way for more live-TV streaming platforms, including Hulu’s highly-anticipated service.

Disney and Comcast—through their respective TV subsidiaries—each own 30% stakes in the Hulu streaming service, which boasts more than 12 million subscribers and has plans to launch its own live-TV streaming service sometime in the next month.