The Right Stuff?

Cliff Edwards

Could it be that a content provider is finally getting it right?

Disney, which owns the ABC network, as well as the Soapnet, ABC Family and Disney Channel cable networks, is planning to offer quite a bit of its shows for free anytime on the Web after they air.

The move could help reverse the rising tide of illegal file-sharing, as it looks like fans of "Lost" and other hit shows around the world will finally get a chance to secure quality copies of their favorites at the same time as everyone else (i.e., no waiting a year or two for it to appear in New Zealand or Ivory Coast).

Beginning April 30 and rolling out throughout the summer, the website will add a menu of shows. To be sure, the move is not altruistic. Two of the three initial shows--"Alias" and "Commander in Chief" have been struggling recently in the ratings and could boost viewership during the remainder of their run.

For Disney, the move also may bring advertisers back into the fold, since viewers would still have to watch three mintues of commercials. Even then, Disney appears to be thinking creatively by having just one sponsor per episode and offering a choice of commercials to watch, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

As always, the devil is in the details, but this deal, which could be a win-win for everyone, looks like one initially worth applause.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.