Entertainment giant Disney is expanding its video offerings for the iTunes platform with the addition of content from its ESPN and ABC Sports outlets as the company pushes further into the mobile-media realm.
Kicking off the latest effort are condensed versions of this year's four college BCS bowl football games from ABC Sports. Later this month, ESPN will provide content from its X Games coverage, "SportsCentury" interviews from ESPN Classic, and the amusing "This Is SportsCenter" show.
Also in the works are ESPN Original Entertainment programs including "Knight School," the forthcoming reality program featuring Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight, which will premiere on iTunes.
Reaching into the Disney Library
"Our mission is to serve fans wherever they are by delivering high-quality content across dozens of multimedia platforms, now including the iTunes Music Store and viewing on the iPod," said George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.
Besides the sports programming, Disney also is making available content from the ABC Television Group, ranging from the "Wildfire" series to the animated shows "Kim Possible" and "The Proud Family," and selections from the ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television library product including "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the 1970s Saturday morning show "School House Rock."
Classic animated shorts will be offered via iTunes as well, along with free, ad-supported video podcasts from ABC News. The shows that are not offered for free will cost $1.99 each.
News and Entertainment
Apple changed the way TV programs are distributed last year when it launched the video-capable iPod and began selling video content from Disney's ABC subsidiary. Thus far, customers have downloaded some three million videos from the Apple site.
Adding sports is an interesting choice for the iTunes platform, said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler, because such programming typically is only viewed in real time. "Disney is moving beyond entertainment to include more news-related content for iTunes, which is something the other networks and studios may try to do as well," he said.
Schadler also pointed out that ESPN has been aggressive in making its content available online and in the mobile space. "They understand the importance of extending the relationship with their viewers beyond the TV screen," he said.
NBC Universal also has an agreement with Apple to provide television shows for the iTunes store, including classic programs as well as more recent offerings like "Law & Order."