ABC plans to change its app on iOS devices this week, adding an option to stream the network live, according to the New York Times.
But the feature will only work if users already have a cable or satellite subscription, Time reports.
Several other networks, including CNN, have gone this route and enabled live mobile access to subscribers. Parent company Disney has also done this with its WatchESPN and WatchDisney apps. Because their coverage is best watched in real-time, this has provided remote access to users away from their TVs.
But ABC's host of shows and prerecorded entertainment have long been available on the ABC website and on Hulu at no charge. With the app update, ABC may start providing new episodes on a delay to the sites without a paid subscription on Hulu Plus or to a cable or satellite provider.
Time reports this move as a potential attack on cord-cutters, or viewers that are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of on-demand services like Hulu Plus and Netflix paired with an Internet box like the Roku or Apple TV.
Bob Iger, the CEO of ABC's parent company Disney, has been planning this for some time. In 2011, Iger said that the company would the programming less accessible or put a delay on online streaming except "if customers are authenticated as a subscriber."
ABC pushes to keep the customers that are already paying for subscriptions as part of a push to better compete with the bevy of services available on mobile devices. But by requiring a subscription, they may alienate themselves from the cord-cutters that have already bought in to Netflix and Hulu Plus.