Why You Can’t Watch ABC Online

I cut the cord with cable a long time ago.  It’s been a great experience for me, and an amazing money saver to boot.  I wrote about how to cut the cord with cable and how I’m using my Roku and PlayOn TV to watch the shows I want to see.  While it isn’t perfect and doesn’t cover every network and every show, it covers everything I care about except some sports.  Not anymore.  The online streaming of ABC changed on January 6, and now you need to sign in to your cable provider to watch new shows.

ABC has changed the rules of streaming their shows. Here's wat you need to know.

I have a major philosophical issue with this, as ABC is network television and meant to be free tv.  When you stream ABC, you have to watch commercials.  In fact, you watch a lot of commercials.  There are six commercial breaks in an hour long show, one before the show starts and five throughout the episode, and you cannot fast forward through them or change apps on your tablet or phone to avoid them.  You’re pretty much forced to watch them, unlike when I used to use my VCR to tape show or even my DVR where I could fast forward.

Streaming has 6 commercial breaks per hour show

Apparently ABC has decided that they aren’t making enough money from the commercials, and now you have to have an affiliation with an approved cable provider to stream new ABC shows.  Whether it’s because they can’t charge enough per viewing of the commercials online or their shows cost too much to make and license or some other problem altogether, address that root cause.  This is not the answer.  Within two days, ABC’s iOS app already had over 3,000 one star reviews.  They updated it to fix some (not insignificant) bugs, and already there are almost 1,500 1 star reviews compared to 14 five star reviews.  That should tell you something there.

My personal opinion aside, this is the reality at the moment.  ABC is following the trend of Fox and CBS in making this change, as Fox has long required you to provide you cable provider to watch recent shows (but I’ll be honest, there aren’t any Fox shows I watch, so I sort of hadn’t cared).  CBS has been late to the game in providing online streaming, and again there aren’t any CBS shows I’m interested in watching  primarily because they haven’t streamed shows in the past.  While CBS doesn’t require you (yet) to have a cable subscription, they simply don’t load shows to their app until a week has passed, which is essentially the same result.  NBC, however, still keeps free tv as free tv for all, not just those who are (over?)paying for cable with select providers.  For now.  You know it’s a matter of time, right?

ABC?  If you’re listening, I have a message for you.  There are some shows that I’m willing to wait to watch, but not many.  And those are only the shows that I currently watch and love, which is down to four (yep, just four) right now.  Three I’ll wait to watch, but the fourth?  Nope.  So that means you just lost a viewer.  When they go off the air, I won’t be searching for new ABC shows to replace them.  I’ll find other ways to spend my time, and that’s fewer eyeballs you’ll have anywhere.  You can’t stop the tide of change.  People simply don’t sit down on a Thursday night to watch live television anymore.  More and more of us are cutting the cord with cable for a variety of reasons.  If you want to retain a fraction of your viewership, this is a decision you need to seriously revisit.

So what’s up with the new ABC app?  I’ve been exploring and testing and playing with it for awhile, and I at least have some answers to what you can and can’t do.

Can I just not update the Watch ABC app and keep watching my shows?
Nope.  When you open the app anytime after January 6, you are given the message that this version of the app is no longer supported and that you have to update the app.  You can either choose to not update it and simply not stream ABC anymore, or you can update it with the new restrictions.

If I don’t have cable, can I watch nothing?
Fortunately, no.  I have a feeling there would be some regulatory involvement if the networks made all their shows pay only.  Shows are available for select cable subscribers the day after they air.  They are then available to everyone one week after they air.  So if you’re up for watching Grey’s Anatomy seven days after it airs, you can still do so.

ABC shows less than a week old require verification to watch

How do I know what I can view if I don’t have an approved cable plan?
When you open the app and view the television shows, episodes that are in their “protected period” will have a bar across them “VERIFY TO VIEW.”  If you click on one, it will ask you to sign in with an approved cable subscription.  These shows will also list how long until the protected period expires so you know when you can come back to watch it without a subscription.

The show I want to watch is expiring soon.  That’s not fair!
From what I can see, shows will be uploaded for streaming twice.  The protected period upload will have the one week countdown and the verified requirement.  Once that period has passed, the episode will be pulled and reuploaded with for streaming accessible to everyone.  Those shows will have no notifications on them, and they don’t state when they will expire.  Typically, five episodes (including the protected viewing episodes, if any) are available at any given time, but sometimes there are fewer or (rarely) more.

If I have cable, am I set to watch just like I did before?
Only if you are lucky enough to live where the cable provider has partnered with ABC.  Right now, only some providers are participating, though this may change going forward.  For ABC, if you have a cable subscription with AT&T U-verse, Charter, Cox, Google fiber, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum, Verizon FiOS, or Xfinity, you are set.  If you have any other provider, you’re out of luck.  That includes major cable providers like Time Warner, as well as Dish and Direct TV.

Cable partners that will allow you to watch ABC online

How do I log in if I have a subscription with one of the participating cable providers?
Click on any episode that has VIEW TO VERIFY on it.  That will take you to the list of cable partners.  Select your cable provider, which will open a new page where you enter your credentials.  Once you’ve signed in, it should take you back to the show you wanted to view and keep you logged in going forward.  That said, it doesn’t (yet) work perfectly.  You may need to close the app and reopen it before it accepts your login.

Sign in to your cable account to watch ABC shows online

If I stream television via Roku or Apple TV, can I watch ABC protected view episodes?
Yes… and no.  If you had access to ABC streaming to your television via a third party provider previously, you may be able to.  If you subscribe to Hulu+, you can still watch the recent episodes you’ve subscribed to, for example.  If you watch them using Hulu without upgrading (which I do – or did), you can sign in to your AT&T U-verse, Cox, Optimum, or Verizon and watch current episodes.  Not that Comcast’s Xfinity is not on that list, though it is a partner with the Watch ABC app, which means that I’m out of luck.  PlayOn TV does not currently have a way to provide a username and password for a cable provider to allow you to access those channels, though that coding may change going forward.  There are other channels where PlayOn TV is already set up to allow login access.

If I don’t have an approved cable subscription, can I still watch my daily shows?
Here lies a big flaw in the setup.  Daily shows like The View or General Hospital are protected for seven days, just like other shows.  And typically, only five episodes are retained at a time.  If you don’t have a cable subscription, the episodes are completely deleted before the protected period is over, and you are out of luck.

Daily shows on ABC expire before you can watch them if you don't subscribe to cable

The message?  Television is currently trying to maintain the status quo.  They want people to watch shows live.  They want the current cable empire to continue as is.  That isn’t where the world is moving, and ABC’s online streaming is just the latest fallout as networks and other companies navigate the constantly changing landscape.  Will this stick?  I sincerely hope not, but it’s what we have to deal with today.

Want change?  Speak up.  Talk to ABC.  Talk to regulators.  Talk to your cable company.  Make noise and make your voice heard.  I’ve seen and heard from so many people who have simply deleted the ABC app and won’t be watching the network at all, and those are the kinds of actions that speak loudest because they affect companies in the pocketbook when they don’t get ad revenue from the eyeballs that aren’t watching their streaming shows.




  1. While I love this post 100% as I fellow cable cutter, and was steaming ALL WEEK, my cbs ap doesn’t require cable verification. I’m just glad they put General Hospital on Hulu plus. They spent all week saying it was on Hulu Plus and it wasn’t and then it finally was.

    Also, my mom has a valid cable provider and says she can’t event get the ap to work!

    You should really watch the Good Wife on CBS. It is a fantastic show.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. That was sloppy writing on my part. CBS doesn’t require you to sign in, but they don’t upload shows until a week has passed from the air date, which essentially puts their shows into the same category of delay – though at least they aren’t making it a have/have-not thing depending on your cable situation.

      The app wasn’t working properly the first few days it was out, but the new update (1/10) improved some of those bugs like the sign in issues. She should be able to get in now.

      Hulu+ definitely helps some people, but… I don’t subscribe even to Hulu+, so I’m still out of luck there. Fortunately, I don’t watch that one, but for people who do, it’s a half solution at least.

      • I watch CBS shows like The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Person of Interest and How I Met Your Mother and they are all online the day after they air!

        CBS did once wait a week, but that’s a long time ago!

        I do however not know if some shows are different, but these shows are available online (at least on the web page) within the next day!

        I too hate this cable issue and I do hope CBS doesn’t change!

        • There is a difference between what is available on the CBS website and streaming via an app. There are some shows that are available immediately after they air on the CBS app, but not all. Two Broke Girls, for example, has the 1/20 episode on the website, but 1/13 episode is the most recent on on the CBS app. I know I’m not alone in tending to watch from my tablet or phone rather than my computer, which is where the challenge comes in.

  2. Very well written,
    I am planning on cutting the cord here very soon. This still does not discourage me.
    I think the cable companies and networks have teamed up to try to hold on to what control they still have left.
    My family does not watch television live anymore, it is to inconvenient. I do not mind commercials but I am not paying for a subscription service that has you watch commercials (even if the commercials are catered to your liking). Not to mention the Subscription service is owned by the television networks and some cable companies.

    If it means waiting 7 days oh well, if it is taken down before that I will just stop watching that show. I love television entertainment but if a network or networks are going to make it more difficult to watch their content. They are losing me for current shows that I watch and any future shows they produce.

    Thanks again for such a great article. So full of information.

    • Thank you, Dale! I hope that it helps, and I am with you on the paying for subscription services. I actually don’t subscribe even to Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu+ and can watch everything I “need” to. I think the part so many companies are missing is that their product isn’t NECESSARY, and by increasing the difficulty in obtaining it, they simply are losing customers rather than getting more money for their product. Too many of us won’t pay it.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I am one of those many ABC supporters who is now completely frustrated due to the GIANT leap backward they have taken.

    One thing you stated was that ABC does not obtain enough money from their commercials for streaming online content and, although that may be true, a few years ago this station and ALL of its content was free with rabbit ears and there were commercials all the same. Then the whole ‘HD’ content came around and more people purchased cable subscription service. Lately, as the baby boomer generation is starting to die out and the next generation is rising, the number of individuals in their 20s – early 30s who actually pay for TV subscription is at a record low.

    The problem with this is the cable companies are biting their nails and have become so desperate that they began to charge the studios more money to broadcast their content (Subscriptions lowered so price for the studios, as well as the consumer, went up).

    Recently the whole networks dropping themselves out of the network of subscription service providers was an attempt at lowering the cost they have to fork out for the network to air their content. That essentially back-fired on ABC because the networks just simply told them they have to take down their free content online in order to lower their rates. ABC complied and now they are able to pay less to deliver their content.

    Who gets to suffer because of this move? The consumer…. you and I. It’s highly unfortunate to see ABC joining the network bandwagon and screwing millions of viewers over.

    For the record, I WILL NEVER PAY FOR TV…. EVER! I am the next generation and we demand our TV shows back.

    • I’m with you, Mike (obviously).

      I actually stated that *whether* it’s because they don’t earn enough from commercials or… my point there was that their solution to whichever way they choose to look at the problem isn’t the right way to resolve it. If you increase your costs, your revenues by necessity won’t be sufficient. There needs to be a shift change in many industries with regards to expecting customers to simply keep paying more, and television is just one of these. Sports? I can’t afford to take my family to a hockey or football game. Movies? It’s no longer a “hey let’s go tomorrow” thing because tickets are $10 a pop, even for kids because “matinees” have been completely redefined by many theaters. And the list goes on. I’m making different choices, and I know I’m not the only one.

      • Yeah, I understand that you were speculating the reasons why the studios are doing what they are doing. I was informing you of the real reasons behind it.

        Take ABC Studios, then their own network owned by Disney… Disney bargains their station to the cable company. The cable company states that Disney needs to pay more money now in order for ABC to continue outputting their content. Disney gets upset and says “to hell with you.” They back out until the cable company wants to be reasonable. Then, the cable company turns it around and says *in a whiny voice* “But, but, but…… you guys are streaming tv shows the day after they air so more and more people are not paying us money to watch tv *sob*……… (evil scheme) Now you have to take that luxury away from the people, we will lower your cost to us, then we together will take away from the people!!! MWWAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

        Ok, so I have a bit of an imagination… the unfortunate part about that is that it is the truth. Any way, going forward, the day a big studio completely backs out from the cable companies and transfers their content 100% online will be the day that I am happy. I mean, think about it… the studio charges $0.50 per episode of each show they own and VOILÀ! they are now making more money as a studio franchise and there is no more need for the middle man any more; which ultimately pans out to be less cost to the consumer! It’s a Win-Win-Lose situation! (with the losing going to the greedy and self-serving cable company)

        So yeah, I am going to be incredibly happy when either a major sports network or a news/tv show broadcast company chooses to lead the way into the future of online streaming.

        Not too mention, I will be one of the first individuals to purchase an Ultra HD tv that comes out with full computation features in it (essentially an all-in-one TV, computer, media center, etc). Get cracking Apple! :)

        • Wow that’s a lot of info. Thanks for the detail behind all this. I knew some of it, but… the business model is so messed up. I love your creativity in the personalities you shared. And YES – how fun will it be when you can truly choose what you want to watch and only pay for that. MLB.tv is a start – and we subscribe – but it’s just a start! I have full confidence that it will come one day.

  4. totally agree…
    I pulled the plug on cable in 2008 and never looked back since. It really is hard to describe to a person that is stuck on tv how much extra free time you have when you aren’t chained to tv anymore. I watch whatever I like via Netflix or iOS apps.

    I really loved “The neighbors” and both “Once Upon A Time” shows on abc and hope I can continue to view them. Otherwise they are going the way of Sci Fi (SyFy) which is down the drain (deleted). I never went back after they ended “Alphas, Warehouse13 and Eureka” because they said they cost to much to make! I loved those shows, reality tv is getting old and boring. I wonder if this is the medias rebuttle to google chrome cast being released so that everybody can have an affordable streaming options on thier tv also.
    What is up with the networks lately they are all really beginning to suck… I have turned to watching some foreign shows, I like to read the subtitles. It’s funny to catch it when they copy American shows and make new movies out of them.

    • Thanks, Ginny. I love when people agree with me ;)

      You definitely have so much extra time when you aren’t tied to the tv. It’s nice. The only downside is that when I’m “bored” I don’t have shows to catch up on, but that’s what Pandora is for! I adore Once Upon a Time (though not the new version, much as I wanted to like it), and I can still watch it a week later now. That’s one of the shows I’m ok not watching immediately. But I am NOT looking for new shows on ABC the way things are.

      I adore foreign shows, too. And English movies dubbed into other languages. There is so much out there – cable is definitely not needed!

  5. Thanks for the info Michelle!

  6. I get free cable at my condo complex but the company they use is not listed. I have AT&T U-Verse internet and was able to use my login to get access to my shows. If you have internet from one of the verified companies you may be able to get access.

    • Now that’s fascinating! You aren’t “supposed” to be able to get access from your Internet subscription alone, but I wonder if there’s a glitch in the system that is allowing that to work. Awesome for you if it is, and I’d love to hear if others have tried the same solution and gotten it to work. I’ll cross my fingers for you that this loophole doesn’t get closed at some point.

  7. Last fall on Dance Moms via Lifetime was the first time I had seen this cable verification process. I couldn’t watch anything current that season.
    This Winter season, they only lock them after a few weeks. So right now you can view the current last 2 shows, but not the first anymore.
    Hopefully, this won’t work for ABC for long either???

    • We’ll . I understand a cable verification process when it’s streaming actual cable shows – at least the ones the networks don’t *already* have available to anyone on their websites – but the network side of things really bothers me. I’ll be interested to see the reaction from ABC a few months down the line. I’m not optimistic, but I have my fingers crossed along with you.

  8. I agree! I haven’t ever had cable and therefore would not have a cable account. Watching shows is like my lifeline for me when I get to stressed out with college stuff and having to wait a week is not cool! I have to point out, though, that CBS has gotten better with putting their shows online. The shows are usually up the next day and you don’t have to sign-in, so I’ve started watching more and more CBS shows. Hopefully ABC will change this ridiculousness, but it’s probably unlikely.
    Thanks again for the great article!

    • Yes, some CBS shows have changed – mostly the daily shows, from what I’ve seen. The primetime shows seem to still be a week delay before being uploaded, however. I’ll have to go check them out again. I wonder if they’ve changed THEIR policy to some degree to capitalize on the changes ABC has made. Now *that* would be smart marketing.

  9. It’s frustrating! I need to watch my shows! Found this post while searching for updates on ABC shows. Loved this post!!

  10. Such a good review!

  11. What about families who live in the country and have an outdoor antennae? This handle seems fair.

    • It isn’t just people in the country who have outdoor antennae. I choose not to have cable and use my antenna. I’m with you, and we’re not alone!

  12. I canceled my $120 a month Comcast / Infinity bill last year and have been casting my favorite shows using the network websites and Google Chromecast. So with ABC’s new policy, I have found that all I have to do is plug in a neighbor or friend’s username & password for their TV provider and then I can still watch the ABC shows 24 hrs later. If your PC won’t let you put in someone else’s ID’s, just delete your history, then go back and enter their info (it works).

    • Technically, you could do this, but it isn’t something that I’m comfortable doing – and I wouldn’t share my password with a neighbor either. This doesn’t really solve the issue but rather kicks the can down the road. Me? I want to see true change and solutions.

  13. I think they would be better served if we could pay for an ABC/ABC family subscription. I would be willing to pay a small fee a month to watch my shows, but Cable takes my bill from 0-$98… No thank you!

    • Frustrating, isn’t it? I know there are many who would be willing to pay for that. I’m not willing to pay for network shows, but cable shows? Absolutely!

      • Mona Mobley says:

        Thank you for your post. Evidently ABC is wanting to lose customers. I too cut the strings and just use an antenna. I went in today to catch yesterday’s GH and found out I can watch it in one week….great, that’s a big help. I’ll just catch it today … really not that big a deal, but I’m sick of us with less getting bilked by the big service providers. They started charging to read my local paper online too, so I proceeded to sit down and contact all their advertisers, asking them if they weren’t paying the paper enough money in advertising for them to let us “poor folk” read. You have to protest to get things done….or at least attempt to get them done. Excellent post thought, thanks for sharing. Guess time to catch up on House of Cards on Net Flix. :) Thanks for your time.

  14. While I don’t watch a lot of the current shows, one that I always fit into my schedule is ABC’s The Goldbergs. I watch it during its normal time slot and set the DVR in the event that I am not home. However, one of my friends loves the show and does not have a DVR. She missed last week’s episode and has to wait until Wednesday (01/29) before it is available since one of the main cable providers isn’t listed (Suddenlink).

    Why is it that 8 days is the time frame they allow before a non-verified account can watch the content online? Why not just wait 24-48 hours? On the other hand, had this been a brand new show, without any following, the network runs the risk of people who are not cable subscribers forgetting about a show all together if they have to week 8 days. Interestingly enough, TV Land’s content is online now without any additional verification required. I would have thought Viacom would have done something like this but as of yet they have not.

    Although I am generally able to watch The Goldbergs during its first run broadcast, if I am out of town or the DVR doesn’t work, I would also like to have an alternative to watch the show. Ultimately, I think ABC will have to re-adjust and fine tune this plan if they want it to work long term.

    • I think another commenter earlier clarified it beautifully. It’s all about the money, sadly. That said, I do feel like this is going to backfire, as the tide has turned already against traditional tv watching and cable is starting to see enough of a loss in subscribers, as well, that this will have an impact on how many people watch ABC as a network (I hope?). Ultimately, I agree with you. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later!

  15. Okay so I don’t have hulu plus (do have a hulu account) and i went to ABCfamily trying to watch episodes that Aired Weeks ago. Not just a week ago but weeks ago. Im just wondering why i can no longer have access to these shows (i watch on my laptop). Maybe you can provide some insight. Specifically I’m referring to a show Pretty Little liars. There is an episode that aired on 1/07/14 yet it still ask me to provide cable information to watch it. I am very confused! Any insight?

  16. Hi, So I have a question as I am new to this whole roku thing.
    So, I am trying to watch dance moms on lifetime and I have to sign in to watch, but when I do it says user unauthorized, I have also cancelled my cable, so is that why it will not allow me to watch the latest episode???
    Thanks for any advise/help

  17. Deb Gunsch says:

    Follow the money trail. Just like everything else.. Why do many teachers and the NEA hate homeschool families and private school families, they pull money out of the PS system. Why do congressmen vote the way they do? B/C they have to answer to their real constituents, the people who pay them (lobbyists) so they can get reelected. WHy did ABC push it back a week? Cable companies are losing too much business to the web and want people to have to wait. American’s are such instantaneous whiners that if we can’t watch our stupid tv show right now, we might give up and order Cable for some ridiculous amount of money each month… All part of the American dream.

  18. michelle mink says:
  19. What a morbid surprise I just got! It is 3:36 am, I have completed my homework and thought that I would relax with an episode of General Hospital only to find out the ABC has teamed up with “pay for your subscription companies”. This sucks! I study hard all week, sometimes all month long and the minute I decide to enjoy a little bit of my time I find out that I cannot. Well CBS, here I come.
    Network television viewing should be free…

  20. So, what’s to stop me from using somebody else’s login I.D.? If they’re willing to share it, of course.

    • Right now, nothing, although I’ve read that the powers that be are looking to limit how often and where a login can be used. It’s not the route I’m pursuing, as I’d rather fix the issue entirely rather than put a Band Aid on it. And … it’s not the right thing to do.

  21. I totally agree with you. They have lost me two eyes too. I have lost two hours of my time trying to figure out why the videos would be frizzing at a certain point.
    Thanks for your info.

    • So sorry to hear about it not working well for you. Good news? There’s plenty of great content out there that doesn’t require you to jump through these hoops!

  22. I find it even more ridiculous that I am steaming through my internet provider – not my cable provider. My internet provider is att uverse and yet I’m not authorized. And what’s the point of on demand when they don’t bother to update it for days. I’m beyond irritated.

  23. I have “Grey’s anatomy” on demand, but my subscriber takes forever to post it. I have blue ridge cable. I got caught up last season by watching on demand, and I started watching it well into the season so I’m not sure when they are posted on there. I missed the newest episode, because I work third shift and I was sleeping. I thought I could catch it online, but I found this stupid login required. I entered my subscriber, but it still wouldn’t let me watch it. I guess it thinks i don’t have abc on demand. I do it is just really slow at updating….ugh how frustrating.

  24. ABC has definitely lost a viewer in me. I will gladly pay my money to Netflix each month. Paying for regular TV streaming isn’t what I’m about. I figured when we were forced to go digital, it would be a long term problem. That alone, has completely stopped me from watching regular TV. I was find with watching TV a day to several days late on the internet. But paying for it….NO WAY!

  25. I love to cut my cord. I understand where abc is going with this. they found that everyone is online streaming free episodes. Not paying 2.99 episode on itunes. is like J.K Rowling give millions of Harry Potter books for free 1-7. Then how does she makes money that where abc found out. It will be great for abc to limit there online series. If you want this episodes Itunes. Hulu nope, Netflix 1 year after. But if they want to keep the series running for a long time. They need to send us to Itunes and pay or buy whole season pass. For me if i see a show cancel in season 1 not watching it, 2 season cant reach pass if it goes for 4 season i will keep watching it or buy it.

  26. Theresa says:

    While I recognize the “need” for cable networks to do this in order to ensure their viewers are paying for cable services, I was shocked to find that abc does also. I cut cable tv a while ago, opting instead to use an antenna, roku & the cpmuter. I can watch abc for free on my tv, why force me to buy cable to stream episodes on my kindle? So much for choice in a so-called market driven economy.

  27. I was paying for cable in the apartment that I lived in for just $45.00 a month. The apartment owners had some kind a deal with the cable company. I paid faithfully for years. Then I tried to get advanced cable (HBO, ENCORE, STARS, ect…) which was an extra $79.00 or so. It got to much because I was paying extra. So I ended the advanced cable and decided to keep the apartments cable. With the new changes to cable the apartments didn’t want to do it anymore because it was confusing them and the costomers. So everyone who wanted cable had to go thru the cable company. I got cable and they billed people a month advanced. That means you have two bills in one month. Remind you now you will have late fees, but I was never late. They charge me late fees. I talk to them (Cable company) and they know that they charged you a month in advanced, but they don’t tell you and they all lie and say they will help you. No help!!!! So you try to change your cable plan and they charge you again in advance thats doubles the bill. I got tired of paying to much money. So for two months I paid less (more than you think). I can’t stand the cable company. There ripping people off. Is there anyway to fight them? I don’t have cable now it’s been three days. I have Apple tv, Hulu Plus and Netflix. Also some other channels. I think I’m going to have to get another appletv for my kids. How do you get live football and football coverage?

  28. Jenny Balisle says:

    Thanks for your article!
    I started a petition asking ABC to reinstate free next day online streaming for viewers. Here’s the link:
    Take good care,

  29. I got idea wont take long for advertisers to get upset and demand change.

    boycott the stations that do this.

    I dont watch NBC anymore since everytime I get interested in a show they drop it. I have watched several that they drop, so I got fed up with them. I guess I do the same with ABC, sadly I like resurrection and its in the 3rd week :(

  30. Jeff Coulter says:

    I appreciate your essay. It explains why I can’t keep up with Scandal so that I will have something to talk about with my sister. I liked the show, but if I miss one, it’s hell to figure out what’s going on if I have to wait until the next episode has aired before I can watch the one I missed, so I have a suggestion: quit wasting time having your brain filled with the fluff and propaganda hidden in plain sight in TV dramas. It’s all a mind f**k anyway and we’d be better off reading a book or watching a documentary. If we all boycotted this crap the networks would have to rethink their policies.

  31. Hello,

    It is all about greed. Disney owns ABC and I think the billions are not enough for them.
    Greed, greed and greedy corp.

  32. Lifetime just did this. I was watching shows freely on one week and then found those same show locksed a week later. It’s so annoying, especially since I live with my parents and don’t pay the cable bill.

    NBC, ABC, and CBS aren’t even “cable” channels. Those are network stations. I’d get them even if I ddidn’t have cable…They’ve got some nerve. I watch my shows on couchtuner…you can get uploads the next day for free!! They don’t have reality shows tho =(

  33. Thanks for your great explanation as to why we can no longer watch ABC online. I am able to watch NBC and CBS tv shows and thank these 2 networks for making their programming available for those who are not able to watch or record the shows when they are aired. I hope they do not follow ABC’s lead on this. Last year when I tried to watch ABS onlne, it had so many commercials and interruptions, I gave up- even though it was free at the time.
    I subscribe to Dish Network and apparently you can only watch ABC if you subscribe to Comcast (Xfinity) or some other cable service. Unfair.

  34. Nicely written, and thank you for doing so. I hope ABC is reading. Like you, as old shows are discontinued, I turn to other networks (e.g., the CW) or netflix to fill those gaps, rather than explore ABC. Today, what brought me to your site was a google search for why ABCfamily won’t allow me to view ANY of the episodes (even those several weeks old) of Switched At Birth. Not sure what’s going on there. And funny I cannot find anything on that specifically. Either way, there are plenty of other shows out there, and who has time for piddly, time-wasting run-around to access it? One more ABC show I am saying goodbye to. C’est la vie.

  35. I understand your pain! I am angry with ABC and this crazy APP! I miss Soapnet! I could watch General Hospital anytime I wanted. To each his/her own concerning the policy on “pulling the plug”! I love my TV have Direct TV service and a DVR. I also stream a lot of TV shows & movies on websites that that are not connected with mainstream TV companies. General Hospital is interrupted way too often by what the local news channel calls breaking news. I can download GH but I have to wait a week. If I’m already paying for the service why can’t I watch it online? Also, my computer is older and is not able to download an APP!

  36. first of all why they do that its messed up & i know they want them to watch on tv live but its actually not live live you know what i mean some people don’t have TV & that why they went to abc family online another reason is that abc family shows on tv sometimes dont come on when they say their supposed to but i could allways trust abc family online to have the show on the day it was supposed to even if it wasnt on tv the day it was supposed to

  37. Judy Crews says:

    I am furious with ABS’s new policy about watching TV episodes online. Do they not want us as viewers ??? My cable provider is not one on their “list”, so if I want to watch it, I have to pay to do so. REALLY ??? I would advise them to reinstate free next-day online streaming; I mean, aren’t satisfied viewers a priority ?

  38. You are not a true cord cutter. Real cord cutters always supplement with services such as hulu, netflix, and amazon instant. This is the whole purpose of cord cutting. Still being able to watch everything you can possibly think of for much cheaper. Hulu is the easiest solution to that. For under ten dollars a month you get access to pretty much any show you can possibly watch. And you can watch it on your roku player. You article is still valid but if you cared about any of those shows you’d have a service like hulu plus. Also you never had the required by federal law free DTV tuner in your area. I got three from comcast of all people and they work just fine.

    • This wasn’t my article about being a cord cutter. Its purpose was to explain the changes that ABC has made. Having an alternate provider is an option for many and what they choose, but those who are surprised or unhappy with their inability to watch ABC online. Happy that you have a solution that works for you!

  39. Michelle,
    First of all, thank you for eloquently providing the information we needed regarding WHY ABC decided to change their streaming policy. My husband and I have been considering cutting the cable because our bill is not worth amount of TV we watch or even record. I am in school and he is in to other hobbies and not much TV. Our bill is almost $180 per month for (get this) ONE DVR box, and one Modem for internet through TWC. Cable is getting more and more costly now that antennae TV days are long behind us – which makes absolutely no sense to me until you and Mike broke it down for us to understand. Money is always the reason and unfortunately, folks like me who can afford the luxury no longer want to. After reading the many posts here, I think we will be cutting cable for sure. Even if we only stick with the very basic service that only gives you local channels (2-19 or so) that only costs about $12. [We are news junkies..] LOL! I too was shocked to learn that ABC changed their streaming service. I opted to record my shows instead of stream them online but I was rather upset and felt it was unfair. Thanks again

    • Welcome to my world. That said, if you’re only doing local shows, you can easily do an antenna and skip the basic service even, if you choose. Our house still had an antenna in the attic (who knew) that my husband was able to connect easily. Good luck!

    • Stop renting the Cable Modem, trot down to Best Buy and get your own for under fifty bucks.

      • Actually, we own our own modem. This article is focused on the restriction of when ABC now allows people to watch their new content.

        • Yup, I was repsonding to Nia’s comment. She mentioned that she still rented.

          On the subject of cable modem’s, if you have had your modem for a few years then you should check out the software load, docsis 3.0 is the current standard for high speed internet. The difference with the previous release is the ability to “bond” channels for greatly increased throughput. IPV6 is also enabled. So if you view the “properties” of your network connection and see that IPv6 is enabled then you have docsis 3.0.

  40. Where I live, Comcast Cable has never run lines this far out. Therefore, I have to have DirecTV to watch television. But when I tried to stream something from ABC.com, they had a drop-down list of their “accepted” service providers which did NOT include DirecTV! WTH!? They had Dish. But DirecTV has been around LONG before Dish TV! I’ve had DirecTV for over 22 years!

    I’m so fed up I’m getting ready to just cut the cord and have my son set me up with a digital antenna and use my Apple TV and maybe get a Roku as well.

    Anyhoo, just wanted to add this about DirecTV and ABC not acknowledging them as a valid service provider. I have to pay over $105 a month for that service! You’d THINK I could stream a show when I miss one every once in a while!

  41. Don’t overlook that you can still push the “TV” button on your remote and receive all the major TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC,FOX etc.) broadcasting in your area, just as you did before cable. Almost all of their programs are HD. You might need one of the new type antennas (get one with both VHS and UHF capabilities), but they are still out there sending their signals through the airwaves. I now have all the content from Amazon Prime, as well as 17 free channels from broadcast stations.

    • Yep, you can definitely still watch ABC live via antenna – which is something I talk about in another post altogether. BUT I want to live my life and watch what little tv I do on my own time rather than being beholden to 7pm, don’t get a phone call, type watching. That’s where the issue of not being able to watch online becomes an issue and where it tends to really be driving people away.

      • Mona Mobley says:

        I still have a VCR that I can record from my antenna, so that helps a lot when you want to have a life. :) It still does the job. Thanks again.

  42. I did a post or two about this on my own blog so this subject is fresh in my mind. Thanks for the information on verification. Very useful.
    My mother (aged 86) has moved in with me and wants to watch some shows that are cable only. And I cut the cable.
    A few interesting points on cable. One, over a year ago the FCC ruled that cable companies could begin encrypting Basic cable channels, those are the channels that are broadcast over the air and can be received via an antenna. That was the only service I used for $9.50 a month. Why would the cable company (Comcast) encrypting something that is not encrypted and broadcast free? The answer is that the cable companies are very annoyed with people who don’t use cable boxes and for basic cable that cable coming into the house can be connected directly into the TV. No cable box, no extra revenue for Movies on Demand, premium channels etc. etc…
    The DTV adapter that is provided to decrypt the unnecessary encryption takes the HD signal coming in and outputs a SD (low resolution) signal out. One DTV adapter is required for each TV or DVR recorder and while in some areas two or three DTV’s are provided initially free of charge, after one or two years that changes and (Comcast at least) each will then cost $10/month. Still outputting an SD signal.
    So I cancelled cable TV saving the $10/month and installed a antenna. So the next month, Comcast upped the cost of my internet connection by $15/month for loss of “Bundled product discount”.
    This is getting long so I’ll cut it short. Let me finish with, “What would Uncle Miltty say?”

    • Why yes, yes, that is a huge issue. We did the same thing with the antenna, and our costs went up – but all we want and need is internet. We will call periodically and ask for promos and can get our rate reduced, but the whole game is disgusting to me.

      • Especially when you compare the speed and service available to Europe, and parts of Asia.
        Since (for all intent and purposes) cable is an monopoly, why is it a monopoly that is not regulated the same way that phone, electricity and gas are regulated? Even on the local level, our town used to have a cable board that rode herd on the cable company in town. But not now.
        Your (most excellent) article was on streaming ABC. But the cable companies were the reason for the change, their pushback on their viewership dropping them and doing a end run via streaming started this. So contacting ABC to protest may do little good, writing your congressperson to shake the tree of which Comcast and Time Warner are the biggest branches might. And now, while those two are trying to get their merger approved might be the best time.

        Now, time to garden.

  43. I, like you, have stopped getting hooked on ABC shows. Our cable provider isn’t included, so we get extra screwed. We pay, we can’t watch right away, and when we can, there are tons of commercial breaks. (The “limited commercial” promise at the beginning doesn’t fool anyone.)

    I hope enough people stop watching and they make some changes.

  44. PeterJones says:

    ABC Go offers some great shows and of course the ABC live feature. If you don’t live in US, you can use UnoTelly or similar tools to access it in your country.

  45. Gosh I am WITH YOU on this! I could no longer justify paying $130 a month for cable and internet when I live alone and am never home when my shows are on. There are literally like three shows I’ll actually watch and those are (were) Twisted, The Fosters, and Dance Moms. I’m extremely annoyed that I can no longer watch any of them online because I only have internet service (which I got primarily for school, but also because I THOUGHT I would be able to watch my shows online after they aired…joke is on me I guess). I think it’s ridiculous that they force people to have cable to watch a show. If I was going to go back to paying for cable I would get it with a DVR to record my shows and it wouldn’t matter whether I could see them online or not. It’s so annoying. Sorry not all of us can afford to pay for something we hardly use.

    • An interesting sidelight to this discussion: when I called Comcast to drop TV and phone service, they advised me that my internet service would cost me $84.00/month. I immediately purchased a cable modem to save $8.00/month. Yesterday I called them and told them I was dropping their internet service because ATT had s promo rate of $19.95/mo. After about 2-3 minutes of haggling, I ended up with a reduced rate of $21.00/mo. for a year, followed by an increase to 41.00/mo. for the following year, and then up to $76.00. I plan on staying with them for a year and then moving to ATT.

      • Absolutely. You get a bundled price for multiple products that really gets increased when you cancel products. BUT I’ve never failed in a negotiation with my cable company over pricing. Congrats!

  46. I bought an overair antenna paid 99.99 for mine because I’m no near a big city but there is a good one for 59. My picture is way better then my dish picture was. I get live tv on the analogue connection just like the old days. I just can’t record but my hulu will give me the show the next day or two if I miss the live show.

  47. Norma Cooney says:

    I gave up my cable the end of April this year. I watch mostly anything I want on The Dare wall.com. The only thing I really miss is HGTV. I used to have them on almost all weekend when I was with cable. Oh well its their loss. You would think these networks would make it easier for people to watch online instead of more difficult. I enjoyed reading your blog though as I had wondered why I hat to supply a cable provider and now I know.

    I am a senior lady and as such could not afford both cable and internet so I made the choice to go with internet and I’m not sorry. BTW – ABC lost me when they cancelled All My Children. I had watched that show from the onset and I was devastated when it was taken off the air along with a lot of other people. I vowed I would never watch ABC again. Childish???? Yeah likely but that was the way I felt and still do.

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