Apple Winning the HTML5 Video War: ABC to Stream TV Shows to iPad

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What seemed like a tiptoeing start to a revolution seems to be turning into a steady march: First we had rumors CBS was toying with iPad-friendly HTML5 videos, and now we learn this is a fact, and that ABC is joining the party, too.

The Wall Street Journal really is confirming its position as Apple's leaky news valve with this piece, as it quotes "people familiar with the matter," in a move to gently bump up the hype a notch or two in iPad week. One of the "people" is CBS Interactive president Neil Ashe, which lends a "corporate PR via the back door" feel to this piece, but, nevertheless, the news is potent. CBS and ABC are right on top of the iPad game and will even be offering streaming TV content to iPad owners on day one, Saturday April 3. CBS will have full episodes of Survivor ready, and teasers of other big-name shows like How I Met Your Mother, all transmitted through an iPad version of its CBS.com Web site.

ABC's plans are slightly different--it's opting for an iPad app, with a portal to streaming ABC content and embedded ads that are similar to the ones seen on ABC.com. Both companies are thus keeping tight control over their TV content, while simultaneously embracing Apple's new device--instead of giving Apple power by offering shows through iTunes. The TV business seems to have examined the iTunes/record business model and drawn conclusions that they cannot cede too much power to Apple, lest their industry be overturned too.

We don't know how these shows will be priced, though we hope that Apple's behind-the-scenes push to get them down to $0.99 works out. But we do now see one thing very clearly: Steve Job's stern position on Adobe's Flash tech on the iPhone and iPad seems to be working out for him. Both CBS and ABC will have to adjust their streaming video to HTML5-friendly format to get them to work on iPads, forcing at least a partial abandoning of Flash tech in their Web sites. This is good for Apple, and arguably good for the consumer too, if you're of the opinion that adopting a future-facing open Web standard is better than a closed and potentially buggy (in the case of Flash on the Mac) proprietary system.

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