Disney-ABC shows catching up in N.Z.

Deal with TVNZ is 2nd in Asia Pacific after Hong Kong

SYDNEY -- New Zealand will be the second market in the Asia-Pacific region to deliver a free VOD catch-up service from Disney-ABC International Television Asia Pacific, broadcaster TVNZ and Disney said Wednesday.

TVNZondemand, TVNZ's free online service, will offer a selection of ad-supported U.S. network series, kicking off with the first season of "Private Practice," episodes of which go online 12 hours after their broadcast on TVNZ's TV2 channel.

The deal marks the first time a U.S. series will be offered free of charge online in New Zealand. All episodes will be available on tvnzondemand.com for 28 days.

The service has been in operation for more than 18 months with a mix of local shows, news and current affairs and some selected U.K. and Australian. The broadcaster said that New Zealanders are watching more than 30,000 hours of TV through the free online service.

Other Disney series to join the service this year will include new seasons of "Eli Stone," "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Series launch dates on TVNZondemand will depend on the TV2's broadcast schedule.

"We're delighted to be the first U.S. studio working with TVNZ, a pioneer in the digital media space in New Zealand, to bring our hit U.S. series in ways that are innovative and relevant to viewers here," said Rob Gilby, senior vp and managing director at Disney-ABC International Television Asia Pacific.

Disney already has a similar deal with TVB in Hong Kong and has a number of programs available for sale through Apple's iTunes Store in Australia.