Term Paper, 1998, 11 Pages
There has been a lot of talk about video on demand (VOD) in the last couple of years. Scenarios of a bright future for couch potatoes who had a whole videostore at their fingertips were constantly wandering through the media. When the Internet became a huge success the attention and future fantasies shifted away from the television and video on demand towards the computer.
But how interesting and important is VOD really? The following chapters will explain what VOD exactly is, how it works and who’s standing behind it – its advantages and possibilities as well as its disadvantages and limitations.
How video on demand works
Video on demand – or video dial tone (VDT) as it is sometimes called – means basically that the television user himself can decide what he wants to see as well as (and that is maybe even more important) when he wants to see it. This means he is absolutely independent from any schedule or programming decision by the television networks.
There are different forms of VOD, each one with different features and a different level of interactivity:
1) Near video on demand (NVOD): Near video on demand is already found today in the pay per view (PPV) sector. The same movie is shown on different channels at different starting times (usually in intervals of 60, 30 or 15 minutes). Using a printed or on-screen schedule, the viewer can decide, whether he wants to watch it at 8 PM, 8:30 or 9 PM. This form of VOD of course leaves not much room for a big choice concerning what to watch and if the user misses the start of a show he still has to wait 15 to 60 minutes for the next one to begin.
2) Instantaneous video on demand: This form of near video on demand allows the user to determine the starting time of a chosen program, but the opportunities to exercise the option are limited. Some small systems like hotels or in-flight programs offer this kind of VOD.
3) Live Interactive video on demand: Live interactive VOD is mainly used for interactive shopping. “Not unlike the cable shopping channels, live programming can be in real (linear) time, with the viewer being offered the ability to break away from live programming to select more detailed information on specific products being offered for sale” (Paulsen 1998, p. 411). The live transmission however is recorded so the user has not missed a single product when he returns to the main program.
4) Video on demand (VOD) or true video on demand: This is definitely the most advanced and sophisticated form of the several VOD systems. There are no schedules and few limits concerning the content the user can access. The viewer can choose from a large database of movies (or other shows, news broadcasts, videoclips, images and sounds) and decide what he wants to see. The program starts instantaneously and the user also has the possibility to pause, rewind and fast forward the program just like with a VCR.
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