Monday, May 5, 2008

Is 2008 the Year of VOD?

Will 2008 be the defining year for VOD. Certainly, VOD has been around for more than 5 years; has it really taken this long to find consumer acceptance? I first learned about VOD when I worked at Rainbow and had the opportunity to sell and launch their first free on demand service, Mag Rack. It was an amazing opportunity and allowed me to learn so much about the technical requirements to launch as well as the marketing priorities to build awareness and usage. As a free on demand service, we worked hard to demonstrate to the consumer that the videos were free to watch and easy to use. Back then, few understand that they had VOD access on their cable system.

As other channels expanded their free VOD offerings, they first used it as a dumping ground rather than an opportunity to showcase their best shows. Once they saw that their TV ratings were not negatively affected, quality improved and VOD usage and acceptance took off.

In my family, we use free VOD every day, and it has made us more comfortable when purchasing movies on demand. In fact, we recently made a conscious choice to not buy a dvd that would cost $20 and instead waited till we got home and rented the same movie for $5. While we don't get to own the movie in perpetuity, we did get to watch it and move in; no it wasn't worth buying it.

Is 2008 the year of VOD? I prefer to describe it as the year of digital download. With Apple's recent announcement with multiple studios to download films, along with studios bypassing the dvd windows to simultaneously offer movies for VOD and download at the same time with its dvd release, this does appear to be the year that VOD and digital viewership will have taken off. Viewing habits are shifting and dvd ownership is declining. I'm waiting to see what the next device looks like to store these video digital downloads.