Apple's deal to sell TV shows from Disney through iTunes was agreed in great secrecy but was the first definite deal for television in the digital age.

TV Week has reported an interview with Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney, who Apple CEO Steve Jobs first approached to secure the landmark Disney deal.

Jobs visited Sweeney in her office to demonstrate the service and the video-enable iPod, claiming the device "would revolutionise the television industry".

His visit came as Sweeney was seeking a strategy to help Disney compete with piracy, which she knew was manifesting itself in the form of its television shows appearing on file-sharing sites within hours of broadcast.

"There's a competitor you can't see, and that's piracy," Sweeney explains.

Apple's demand that the deal be arranged in secrecy did cause problems between Disney and its affiliates, Sweeney explains, but the company is doing work to repair the damage - and to explain the reality of television in the digital landscape, the need to 'monetise' content online.

Sweeney descrines the deal as a sea-change for media, saying: "People had been talking about digital media for so long, but nothing had happened."

She also confirmed that Disney has experienced no cannibalisation of its original audience through its online distribution deals. She also predicts more moves in terms of delivering television shows to mobile devices.