Three posts ago I started talking about how operators determine what services to roll out and when. They can analyze user behaviors to predict future trends. They can examine what services are strategically important given competitive offerings. And they can read their sales spreadsheets to see what’s popular with customers today.
Video on Demand certainly comes from that last category.
Comcast recently announced a staggering 36% increase in VOD usage during the 2006 calendar year. While the vast majority of that content is free, the popularity of VOD is reducing customer churn (according to Comcast’s Steve Burke), and with a solid VOD foundation, Comcast can now start pushing targeted ads with on-demand shows. Targeted advertising is where the real money is. Just ask Google.
And Comcast isn’t the only provider ramping up VOD services. Telecom companies are also getting into the VOD game, and just today TiVo announced availability of downloadable programs for the TV via Amazon Unbox.
A marketing manager out of Motorola’s development lab confirmed that VOD is very important to cable operators, and that there is continuous testing of different EPGs with VOD service. When I asked what else is in the pipeline, he suggested that OCAP will be a big driver of change moving forward. Once OCAP is well-deployed it will be a lot easier to roll out new applications. Maybe even gaming services…
As a side note, ViewNow, a content aggregator, has put out a press release saying that VOD usage spike significantly in the January. Why? Apparently the cold spell is making people cozy up closer to their TVs.