No Demand ?

One of the great advantages that cablecos (and the new IPTV services) have over satellite is the ability to offer real time video on demand. In the UK, this means the apparently-soon-to-be-taken-over Virgin Media offer both catch up and free TV shows on demand as well as paid for on demand movies, with similar services available from the IPTV providers Tiscali TV and BT Vision.

Predictions within the TV industry often conclude that VoD is the future, but part of the problem with these services (especially since they don't have a search function as yet) is that content is difficult to discover.

Content discovery is becoming the key to the internet TV industry, with ever more content available through ever more services on more and more platforms finding what you're looking for is tough. EPGs, RSS feeds and video search engines all try and address this to some degree and it's clear that on a PC viewers are willing to point click and play, but this is not usual behaviour on a TV.

It's not surprising, then, that on Narrowstep channels with search, VoD and scheduled content, scheduled content remains by far and away the most popular way of discovering content, with over 75% of content consumed in this way.

Another surprising aspect of the broadcast VoD offerings in the UK is that there is no advertising. So, you can watch all of your favourite programmes without fast forwarding, let alone having to watch through the needless, irrelevant ads.

Meanwhile, CNN is revamping its internet VoD service and it dropping the charges for the service. Experience also shows that paid for VoD services on the internet are far from popular and the lucre of advertising dollars, pounds or euros are proving irresistible.

These factors lead me to conclude that VoD at the moment is primarily seen as a marketing gimmick in the war against satellite, but one truism of marketing is that people don't want what they don't know until they're told that they need it.