Realizing VOD’s Potential


I went into our third annual On
Demand Summit last week (see pages 10-12)
feeling like video on demand is on a roll.

Studios are working with cable operators to
promote pay VOD movies.

Cable’s “window” for getting hit movies on
demand, versus on DVD, is better than ever.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, leading
the way for cable, keep expanding the roster of
primetime network shows they get on demand
soon after they air, recently adding more Fox
and ABC fare, respectively.

Pay TV firms (led at this point by DirecTV)
are even rolling out new high-end VOD products,
like a $30 “premium” category for movies
60 days after their theatrical release.

On both the pay-per-view and “free” ad-supported
fronts, VOD continues to advance. Consumers are far
more comfortable with the VOD concept: Rentrak says
clicks for free TV-entertainment shows rose 31% in 2010.

“From my perspective, the glass is overflowing,” IFC Entertainment’s
Lisa Schwartz said during a summit panel, about
fi lms available on demand the same time as a DVD release.

The glass is still only half full in many respects, though.

Advertising on-demand — the way to make
“free” VOD pay off — is still slow to develop, for
a variety of reasons, including how fast an ad
can be placed on VOD and how much data advertisers
can get about how VOD ads perform.

Comcast Spotlight’s Kevin Smith talked about
promising trials of “dynamic” VOD ad insertion
— with different ads targeting different customers
in the same video stream — and how the
deals and technology are coming together.

But Arthur Orduña, chief technology officer
at cable-backed advanced-ad developer Canoe
Ventures, acknowledged, “VOD is a huge, yet unrealized,
opportunity for all of us in this room.”
Canoe is working toward a national VOD advertising
platform, he said, but the existing obstacles
that keep VOD from having the scale advertisers crave
are yet to be overcome.

“We must figure this out or the train will leave the station
without us,” he said.

Momentum is a terrible thing to waste. So I’m sure the
350-plus people who came to the summit will expect to
hear more progress on making free VOD pay off when next
year’s edition rolls around.