Video-on-demand is on a huge growth curve. The average VOD library size is expected to jump from under 10 TB in 2008 to over 20 TB in 2009, and, according to Pike and Fisher stats I’ve seen referenced, on-demand viewing is projected to jump from 9% of all viewing last year to 38% of viewing by 2012. The net effect is that more VOD content is moving into the long tail. While it used to be that 20% of on-demand videos supported 80% of viewers, now that same 80% is accessing 50% of available content.
The issue with more people watching more and different stuff is that a whole lot of different content has to be available at the same time. That’s a streaming challenge and a storage challenge, and it means cable networks have to get a lot more efficient in how they move video out to on-demand subscribers. They can’t just make 20% of content available at the edge of their networks and assume few people will access anything else. But they also can’t store everything at every edge server because of scaling issues.
Lots of folks are following how content is delivered online because of the rise of content delivery networks (CDNs). That same level of observation should be trained on cable VOD networks. There are striking similarities.