ABC launches ‘Unlocked’ streaming channels in major markets, revamps website

ABC has announced what it’s calling “unlocked” streaming channels, including localized ones in the major markets where it owns a station.

The network website, ABC.com, has also been retooled to better emphasize these offerings.

The new 24-hour streams are available for free without any sign-in required, the network announced June 30, 2022.

There are also no geolocation requirements; in fact, ABC’s announcement emphasizes that viewers can experience news from across the country. The feeds are also available for those living outside one of the eight markets the network owns stations in.

However, in markets where the local ABC affiliate is not owned by the network, streaming availability of local content varies. 

The local streams are filled with local news simulcasts when available, with other content such as documentaries or similar programs filling the time in between.

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While ABC-owned stations have offered streaming content for some time, this rollout appears to help users access the offerings better and drive home the point they are unlocked.

In fact, the word “unlocked” is now featured prominently in headings throughout the redesigned ABC.com website and mobile and connected TV apps, which now puts heavy emphasis on streaming.

An updated interface features labels reading “unlocked” over content thumbnails to guide viewers to what’s available without logging in, including the owned stations’ feeds. 

While “unlocked TV” can be a generic term for channels available for free without a login such as TV Everywhere, it appears ABC may be attempting to use the term as a branding element, having developed a logo for it.

That look is a condensed sans serif with red outer glow. The far left and right become distorted slightly by vertical bursts of light, which could be read as layers of logins being peeled away. In addition to the color version, there is also a single color version of the design.

Thumbnails for each local stream have notably all been switched over the new ABC globe and, where applicable, the flatter-style Circle 7 logo, even in markets where the station has not switched over fully, such as Chicago’s WLS.

The typography is also set in Proxima, which NewscastStudio previously reported is slated to become a standard font option at owned stations once a planned graphics mandate fully rolls out.

ABC is offering local streaming channels in the eight markets it owns a station in: New York (WABC), Los Angeles (KABC), Chicago (WLS), Philadelphia (WPVI), Bay Area (KGO), North Carolina (WTVD), Houston (KTRK) and Central California (KFSN).

Also featured are two new channels from the National Geographic network, which is owned by ABC parent Disney, “Pets & Vets” and “Investigates” that feature a linear-style lineup of content centered around animals and true crime content, respectively. There are also curated collections, such as “20 20/20s” available.

There’s also tight integration with ABC News Live, Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ on ABC.com, with the homepage essentially becoming a hub of content that’s available for free without login, free with login or under a paid subscription model. 

The design approach should be familiar to anyone familiar with current linear TV interactive or streaming user interfaces with its mix of portrait and landscape thumbnails featuring screen captures of content or key art, often displayed in carousel style.

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