Beginning January 6, if you miss an episode of one of your favorite ABC series -- including General Hospital -- and you're hoping to catch up online or on the go, you're going to face some changes.
ABC is requiring that all viewers provide proof that they are customers of a cable television service in order to watch certain content on the ABC.com web site. The network has also introduced a free app that, with similar proof of service, will allow users to watch content from their mobile devices.
Approved cable providers currently include AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, Charter, Comcast XFINITY, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent, and Verizon FiOS. Additional providers will be added in the future.
So how does this impact viewers who want to catch up on their favorite programs?
If you are a subscriber of one of the cable providers listed above, you're online viewing experience will remain the same with one key exception: when you watch video online at ABC.com, you may be prompted to verify your cable subscription by entering the username and password you use to access your cable provider's web site.
For General Hospital, in order to watch the five most recent episodes on ABC.com, viewers will need to verify their cable provider. The five previous episodes will be viewable without the need for verification.
For primetime shows, the changes will impact only the most recently aired episode. Previous episodes will be available online at ABC.com for all viewers one week after their original airdate.
Viewers who do not subscribe to one of the cable providers listed above will need to wait one week before they can stream the episodes from ABC.com. So, for example, viewers will not be able to view the January 6, 2014, episode until January 13, 2014. Again, this applies only to those viewers who do not subscribe to one of the cable providers listed above.
Episodes of General Hospital will also be available the day after their broadcast on Hulu to users with one of the participating cable providers.
New episodes of all ABC programs will be available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, or with a subscription to Hulu Plus.
Comprehensive daily recaps will continue to be provided right here on Soap Central.
Mobile viewing from tablets, smartphones, and other devices
ABC has introduced its new Watch ABC app for viewers using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The app, available as a free download in the Apple and Android stores, requires viewers to verify that they are customers of an approved cable TV provider in order to view the most recent episodes online or on their mobile device. Approved cable providers currently include AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, Charter, Comcast XFINITY, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent, and Verizon FiOS. Additional providers will be added in the future.
If you are a subscriber of one of the above cable services, you'll not only be able to view all ABC.com content on your mobile device, but you'll also be able to watch live feeds of your local ABC affiliate (where available).
With SOAPnet now off the air, fans will no longer be able to catch same-day, primetime broadcasts of General Hospital. The Disney-owned SOAPnet channel is not affiliated with this web site, Soap Central.
Fans can continue to use a TiVo, DVR, or similar device to record their favorite ABC programs.
Fans will also be able to watch episodes of all ABC shows the day after their original broadcast using ABC On Demand, which is offered via television set top boxes.
Why the changes?
While it may seem that the changes are nothing more than an unnecessary hassle, that's not entirely the case. The new Watch ABC app will not only allow viewers to watch live streaming of their local ABC affiliate (where available), but viewers will now also be counted as part of Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings. ABC will be able to measure audience demographics and learn more about how viewers interact with the video ads shown during an online broadcast.
These new ratings may also lead to online viewership being including in each show's cumulative ratings.
The eventual goal, an industry insider tells Soap Central, is to create similar viewing experiences -- including the same advertisements -- on both television and Internet-connected devices. The television and advertising industries are looking for a way to DVR-proof programs and prevent viewers from fast-forwarding through commercials.
For additional information about viewing videos on ABC.com or the Watch ABC app, please visit watchabc.go.com/info?cid=abchp_around_watchinfo or call the customer service line at 800-230-0229.