Video on Demand - it's not just about video

Platforms need to look past the video itself and add extra information for the viewer.
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VoD providers are being urged not to focus solely on the video aspect of their platforms.

James Devonshire, head of VoD solutions at Globecast, tells TVBEurope that providers need to look past the video itself and add extra information for the viewer.

"Viewers need to find exactly what they want and they’re willing to look for it in a VoD environment more than a STB," says Devonshire, citing research that shows VoD viewers are willing to spend more time searching for content than those watching linear TV.


"You can type whatever you want into a laptop or tablet, you can’t with a remote control . So a viewer might search for ‘New York, drama, Woody Allen’ – if the content provider tags their metadata properly, the viewer can find what they’re searching for.

"It’s driving the customer straight to the content they want. So instead of making them actively search for it, you’re putting it on a plate for them."

Devonshire believes VoD services shouldn't just provide metadata and leave it on their platforms indefinitely, but should be refreshing the information - particularly images - on a regular basis. "There’s a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film that starred Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger before they were famous," he explains. "Once they became famous the poster was changed so the audience was drawn to it because of those famous actors."

"Another example is Doctor Who, which always has great guest stars that drive viewers to the content, so the VoD providers can always tap into the current cultural taste by revisiting the artwork and making the best of what’s in the content.

"Platforms should also be updating the text in their metadata," he continues. "Sometimes the text might say ‘The first episode of Doctor Who starring the brand new Doctor,’ and it was three years ago! It really ought to be updated to say ‘this classic episode’ and point out the episodes that really work and really pull people to the platform's content."

Devonshire believes that in many ways, VoD can learn from linear scheduling, "From a marketing point of view, VoD has realised people wait for a launch date for their favourite shows, so everybody knows when the next Marvel series is going to come out on Netflix, just as everyone is waiting for the first episode of Game of Thrones on linear."

"One way of adding to content that’s been learnt from linear is themed weekends – where you fill-up your entire schedule with one whole series, like Comedy Central does with Friends. VoD is now offering that boxset binge which is essentially what linear was doing before. I think the viewer is still looking for that same buzz from their content. They want to be the first person to see it, they want to be the first person to finish it, and they want to be able to have that watercooler moment."

One of the big worries about moving content to a VoD platform is security. If a series launches in one territory on linear TV and in another on VoD, there is a possibility that hackers could get access. Devonshire says Globecast have measures in place to stop that happening, "There’s a lot of premium content that can take some players or STB time to turn around when you deliver it. So if the platform asks for it to be delivered one week before linear, there are a lot of content providers who become very nervous because they don’t want this premium content to arrive a week early in a market that may not be known for its security and where it could leak out onto the internet. It’s already happened with premium content for many, many different channels.

What you tend to have is an embargo period where Globecast can package the content up and three hours before it’s broadcast on linear, we can deliver it so it’s ready for straight after that linear broadcast. So we’re protecting it from people being able to snatch it from elsewhere and put it on pirate platforms."

So to sum up, Devonshire stresses VoD is not just about video. There are other key aspects that all VoD platforms should be taking into account:

- Metadata: driving viewers to the content, including tagging

- Personalisation: putting as much information as possible around the video to drive viewers to the content, including the artwork and metadata

- Localising metadata: ensuring that if the content is available to multiple regions make sure viewers in those regions can read it in their local language.

"Video on Demand is not just about ‘here is a video for you to watch’" says Devonshire. "It’s about making sure that the environment is enriched enough that the viewer has exactly what they expect. Everything is now consumer led and platforms should be looking at what the consumer wants, not what technology can deliver."