VOD and integration into overall viewing

VOD (video-on-demand) is a service that permits playback of programs entirely outside the context of broadcast schedules, although much VOD content does come from that which was broadcast. VOD can also include programs that no-one is planning to broadcast, greatly expanding the variety of available content.
VOD can exist as an integral part of a pay-TV service. A broadband connection is required for anything but a very small selection of programs and for catch-up. While easy to provide in a cable system, it requires separate provision of connectivity, often by the subscriber, in a DBS (direct-broadcast satellite) setup. With broadband, a larger selection can be offered. A DVR is not required, but if it exists, the delay before playback start can be shortened to trivial using file-based push technology, the quality of the playback improved, and the IP network decongested by offloading the playback stream.
Measuring VOD consumption is not only essential to an accurate calculation of ROI (return on investment), but is also the venue, along with OTT, in which an ever-increasing share of viewers prefer to watch television.
There are several types of VOD:
  • Catch-up TV, typically free to subscribers, enables viewers to watch programs hours or even a week or two after the original television broadcast. The EPG (electronic program guide) rolls backwards to provide an interface additional to the VOD thematic hierarchy.
  • Subscription VOD (SVOD) is a model where subscribers are charged a monthly fee to access unlimited programmers. Some or all of the content may be available without additional charges to subscribers to specific plans.
  • Advertising video on demand (AVOD) allows advertisers to reach people who watch shows using VOD and are less exposed to real time advertising messages. Viewers benefit by being able to watch the content without paying subscription fees.
  • In transactional VOD (TVOD), the customer pays for each individual program. TVOD has two variants: electronic sell-through (EST), by which customers can permanently access a purchased program; and download-to-rent (DTR), in which customers can access the content for a limited time upon renting it.
  • Near video on demand (NVOD) is essentially pay-per-view (PPV) with frequent starts of the same program. Except high-value events, especially in sports, PPV is disappearing in favor of the more capable and less wasteful VOD.
  • Push video on demand (PVOD) uses several channels, invisible to the viewer, to preposition a small VOD library on part of the DVR hard disk. It is useful where there is no broadband downlink, such as on cable systems without broadband or on DBS for STBs not connected to broadband.
We can ensure that VOD is measured correctly even in a file-based push environment, in which the server farm might not receive anything other than the original order (which might not even lead to viewing). Third-party tools can be leveraged if it is impossible to build return data into the pay-TV operator's system.
VOD can be integrated into an audience measurement system. In the RPD context, this means that the content (programme) identifier has to match that used in realtime and DVR viewing. This is not true in some pay-TV systems, but can be made true with some effort.
The advantage of measuring VOD and realtime viewing in combination, also including OTT, is to inform the pay-TV operator of its long-tail cost, revenue and ROI (return on investment).