Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nets Should Embrace VOD

VOD vs DVR. It seems that in this changing entertainment landscape, consumer control is gaining traction. For networks to survive and expand their revenue base, it is obvious that they need to push VOD applications. With DVR, the consumer will fast forward commercials and cost nets money. But VOD needs to do more than disable fast forward and other trick features that eliminate the ad message. It needs to become the preferred choice of consumers. Make it easier to find, search, and play. Allow it to be more interactive and customizable so that the content remains relevent for the user. Don't assume that they want to see the ads; they don't. So the ads have to be either much more entertaining and feel less intrusive. Avoid clutter and create unique features that DVRs can't copy. Find the win-win and consumer will stop pre-recording and start reaching for their VOD button!

Why Do Consumers Dislike Their Cable Box

For the most part, consumers seem to like new electronics. If we deem it cool and desirable we are quick to purchase. So homes add devices to their TVs like Wii, Playstation, Xbox, Tivo, Slingbox, DVD players, VCRs, etc. But when it comes to the cable box, it is not put into that former category. In my own home, I own a number of TVs, but only one cable box, despite owning multiple TVs. And I prefer my Tivo to my cable DVR. The cable box has never been viewed as consumer friendly or desirable.

The problem seems to be that the cable box simply overlaps the functionality of the TV set, while those other devices prefer incremental benefit and value. And so, the announcement that Sony, along with other consumer electronic companies, are embracing tru2way, means that those cable functions can now exist inside the TV set, enabling the TV remote to be the singular means to access TV programming.

“The agreement will encourage the development and distribution of interactive and high-value digital content” that can plug into cable without set-top boxes, Sony said. “Key elements of the agreement relate to the deployment of a platform for ‘write once, run anywhere’ applications and to the incorporation of secure digital interfaces that protect consumers' home recording rights, along with copyright owners' rights to secure their digital content.”

Of course that gain means that the cable box will go away. So what will Motorola and Scientific Atlanta do about this loss of business. Eliminating their device, while helpful to consumer adaption of interactive television, means a significant change to their business model. In the short run, most consumers will not go out to replace all their sets, so cable boxes will still be required for some time to come. But change is in the air and bringing plug and play to the TV set will make all these devices far easier to manage from a single remote. And maybe the single remote is really what is most appealing to the consumer.