On Demand Summit: Technology Charts The VOD Marketplace

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New York -- When it comes to on demand, consumers' primary obstacle often comes in trying to sift through the platform's myriad offerings.
That was one of the key takeaways from technology executives at the B&C/Multichannel News On Demand Summit 3.0 here at the Sentry Conference Center Wednesday. Rovi executive vice president of products Corey Ferengul, speaking during the Summit session called "Technology That Is Improving the Consumer's Experience, said that the largest problem viewers face is drilling into the VOD database. With some VOD libraries topping 100,000 programs, simple search navigation through the material is critical to consumers' continued enjoyment and usage.
Louise Wasilewski, director of On Demand software, Cox Communications, noted that "volume is something easy to market. More content makes sense when you can target it very clearly."

Alongside those navigation models, distributors offering VOD can also employ recommendations based on historical usage, which, according to Tricia Lynch, senior programming executive, Verizon, amounts to getting "better as you use it." In addition to database configuration, VOD must adapt itself to the multiple platforms on which consumers choose to view their programming, which has greatly expanded with the rollouts of tablets and the ubiquity of smartphones, according to the panelists.
Lynch said that the Verizon "wants to take our service to other platforms" via Flex View, which she said is "available right now to FiOS customers, but will soon be available to non-FiOS customers. It is the sale and rental of movies and TV shows on all platforms. So it is cell phones, tablets, etc. This year you will see the Flex View App. I'm taking the programming where customers want it."
A Verizon spokesperson later clarified, saying, "We are always looking at ways to extend on demand content. A service like Verizon's Flex View allows us to look at ways to expand outside our FiOS customer base, which is part of the long-range product road map."
Flex View is only one example of a VOD service expanding to multiple platforms. Lynch commented that putting VOD across multiple screens "is very complex and we absolutely depend on partners to get there." She explained that the combination of rights issues and enforcing various rules from programming partners makes the development of on-demand content for smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices quite complex. Lynch, however, predicts that Verizon will see a big conversion in the next couple years.
Commenting about dynamic ad insertion, Wasilewski explained that Cox is "following Canoe's lead and there has been a stronger interest in the RFI application than advertising."
Of course, metrics play a big part in the advertising marketplace, and as Viamedia COO Joe Noonan said "the metrics are different."

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