At yesterday's VOD Summit, held in Philadelphia, a number of statistics were shared. One in particular was that 45% of set top box households use VOD. And the question was asked, is the glass half full or half empty? It sure means improvement from just a few years ago; at the same time, it means that more than half the households still don't use VOD. So what is needed?
Typical consumer behavior with their TV seems as follows: Turn on the tube and surf the channels. When nothing is found, go into the pre-recorded DVR shows and decide if something is worth watching at the moment, then head into VOD. Others though bypass VOD and go right into their DVD collection. The challenge is how to raise the awareness and added value that these homes already possess with their cable subscription but are not utilizing.
The challenge of VOD usage rests in three buckets, choice, convenience, and ease of use. For all three, education remains key to sharing the benefits of VOD. And that message must be presented consistently across all media platforms to break through the clutter. With tons of choice, sometimes too much can be too much and the consumer will pick none of the above. With choice and an overwhelming list to select from, comes the need for expertise and recommendations. In general, consumers want help in picking what to watch. The convenience comes from the technology, the speed of watching what you pick over waiting for a disk to arrive in the mail or going to the store to pick up a DVD. Convenience though could also be improved inside the viewing experience. Getting to places inside the show is difficult with a fast forward button that doesn't offer 15 minute fast forward or DVD type search functionality. With convenience must also come ease of use and navigation remains problematic with the set top box. An overhaul of the navigation menu is immediately required to bring more people into the space. The current "tree and branch" and clunky search does more to drop people out of the navigation process than get them to the shows they want to watch.
Fixing navigation, providing recommendations, and improving the trick feature process will go a long way in gaining more users to the VOD platform. Educating a consistent message on how to navigate and the benefits VOD brings to the home will entice more households to see the value of VOD with their cable subscription.