Seemingly minor issues — such as whether online viewers would be part of Nielsen's program ratings, or whether the same TV commercials would appear online — have stymied the process. Even the partners have debated whether to allow heavily trafficked portals, such as MSN or Yahoo, to be included.
And only one of the four major broadcast networks, CBS, is participating in the trials.
The three other networks — ABC parent Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal, and Fox parent News Corp. — are owners of Hulu. Hulu's owners plan to begin offering a premium service for $10 a month that would provide a greater library of TV shows to watch.
One person familiar with the issue said those networks aren't part of TV Everywhere because, initially, they didn't know what it was going to look like. But now it appears they're holding back online distribution rights as leverage in the retransmission fee negotiations.
ABC is in an unusual spot. Although parent company Disney is a partner in Hulu, its largest individual shareholder is Steve Jobs, the head of Apple. Not surprisingly, ABC was the only broadcast network to have an app on the iPad when it debuted for users to watch ABC shows.