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Broadcast TV Discovers VOD

According to In-Stat, it looks as though the broadcast networks and the cable operators are getting serious about bringing prime-time content to video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. Signs indicate that the networks could launch on-demand services as early as next summer on some systems.

Why? It gives the major TV networks and TV station owners a chance for their Holy Grail -- money from the local Cable TV system. For the Cable TV operators, it provides two things. First, it puts some "sought after" content onto their VOD service. Second, Since about 80 percent of the viewers are only going to be watching Prime Time network shows � the Cable operator can provide most of their subscribers with a "virtual PVR," eliminating the need for deploying a REAL PVR into each home.

Ultimately, this could save the Cable operators some investment and give them a low-cost alternative against the satellite services, which have to deploy a REAL PVR with each subscriber.

One could argue that prime time VOD seems to be another small step toward content being viewed on the consumer�s timetable rather than at the convenience of network slotting. Conceivably, content would appear to be breaking into two categories: time sensitive (sports, news) and non-time sensitive. The trend would seem to be that the second category would be moved to a cached status, PVR or VOD.

There were approximately 7.5 million worldwide cable-based VOD users at the end of 2004. VOD user growth is projected to remain strong for the next several years. Total worldwide users are forecasted to rise to almost 13 million at the end of 2005, and ultimately reach 34 million in 2009.

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