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Three-screen video-on-demand is almost upon us

by Scott Bicheno on 16 April 2010, 16:17

Tags: On Demand Group

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VOD tonic

The mobile industry has been flirting with TV/video for years, but it looks like the technology is finally evolving to the point where it's viable for the mainstream. HEXUS.channel took a trip to the offices of ODG (On Demand Group) earlier this week to get a bit of insight into one of the companies at the vanguard of video-on-demand (VOD).

ODG has been providing VOD services to the likes of Virgin Media for some time, but with the acquisition of Mobix Interactive at the end of 2008, it extended its capabilities to the mobile platform.

COO Andrew Bolton was keen to stress the difference between true VOD and other pay-per-view models like Sky Box Office, which broadcast the same content at regular time intervals. VOD uses IPTV technology to mean that you can not only watch the content when you want, but pause, rewind, etc.

Also the VOD ‘window' (i.e. when in the lifecycle of the content it is available on that platform) is the same as for DVDs, and it lasts around three months. This means that you have three months to maximise the on-demand revenue potential of the piece of content before it moves onto broadcast, or whatever. This is typically done on a per-transaction basis (TVOD), as part of a subscription package (SVOD) or on an ad-funded model (AVOD).

ODG makes all the commercial arrangements with the studio/publisher and then effectively sells the content on to its customers. For example, at the start of March mobile operator 3 announced it was launching the WarnerTV SVOD service. This was provided by ODG.

We asked if even 3G networks have sufficient capacity to be offering all this data-intensive content and got the following response from ODG commercial director, mobile - Paul Davis.

"The operators are involved with ODG in determining the encoding specs for the target devices (we prepare multiple encodes & deliver the optimized video for each device) and therefore they can ensure a quality customer experience whilst ensuring the network's bandwidth is protected (as opposed to off-portal video services like YouTube where the operators don't control the video specs).

"3 has been 100 percent satisfied by the SVOD traffic to-date and there have been no bandwidth issues at all. 3 sees its network has been built for a reason and one of these is to provide quality premium content services like TV On Demand, that encourage usage, reduce churn and drive incremental content revenues."