Posts in News from VOD Platform

VOD Platforms are a building block to content owner profits

Pay-per-view TV is the saviour of future content revenues

Independent film sellers are finding that the patchwork of overseas video-on-demand platforms represent a godsend due to competition for exclusives within territories and mushrooming aggregate sales.

With fragmentation, many VOD platforms outfits outside the United States pay low fees, but a strategy to mount short-term exclusive deals with one platform as a building block for additional ancillary deals is emerging.

For example, U.K.-based Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment licensed documentary “Something for Nothing: The Art of Rap” with iTunes in the U.K. for a two-week exclusive window in September. While all of Kaleidoscope’s titles are accessible on iTunes and other VOD platforms, the music doc got extra iTunes promotion during the period. “If you have a film with strong reviews and good word of mouth, that will help stimulate the later physical DVD sales as well,” says Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope.

VOD Platforms

VOD Platforms are a building block to film revenues

For many indie films, video-on-demand in many territories doesn’t pay minimum guarantees but simply a cut of the revenue or a small license fee that amounts to a few thousand dollars. But those payouts can pile up from multiple territories.

In a survey of its member sales companies, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) found the number of VOD and subscription VOD platforms increasing sharply in international territories from 2011 to 2012. For example, Japan went from 14 VOD & SVOD platforms to 18, and the United Kingdom from 10 to 15 in just one year.

The multitude of VOD platforms contrasts with subscription TV, which tend have one or two behemoths in each territory — one for cable and one for satellite TV.

Media researcher SNL Kagan sees a dramatic upturn in aggregate international digital VOD / pay-per-view revenue for motion pictures, going from just $9.9 million outside the U.S. in 2009 to $224.6 million this year. That’s for online movie VOD overseas, excluding VOD on subscription TV platforms.

VOD Platforms have always been a talking point

“Everybody has been talking about VOD taking off since the late 1990s,” says Bill Anderson, IFTA vice president, research and strategic analysis. “What we didn’t take in account back then is that people didn’t have the broadband capabilities to download. Now broadband penetration in the major markets is deep.”

Films from Hollywood’s majors take a big chunk of the growing overseas sales, but indies are tapping the windfall. Malte Probst, vice president PPV and VOD at Sky Deutschland, Germany’s top subscription TV platform, notes that indies excel among those who appreciate edgy films, and also horror and arthouse genres. Sky Deutschland’s capacity for storing VOD titles on settop boxes will go from 40 to 350 with new hardware rolling out to its satellite TV subscribers.

Chinese VOD platform Youku Tudou also likes acquiring independent movies because they represent a better value than major studio titles, says Huilong Zhu, VP, movies and corporate business development. VOD is catching on with Chinese consumers as Youku Tudou finds movies generate five to six times the consumer buy rates than comparable titles when first launched.

Check out more stories on our View TV Group website at


The Rise of VOD Platforms in Africa

Operators need to understand that all the evidence points to VoD platforms meeting a need that up until this point has been met by pirated DVDs. Rumours abound that two large operators will announce VoD services at AfricaCom next week. Russell Southwood looks at how things are changing now that high speed bandwidth is increasingly available in African countries.

Two conversations have stuck in my mind this week as I finished editing VoD in Africa – A review of existing VoD services, their challenges and opportunities in 2013:

1. The myth that Africans don’t buy content: An executive who works in francophone Africa told me that when he goes to buy USB sticks, the retailer always asks: does he want it filled up with movies for just a little bit more money?

In almost any market anywhere in Africa, there are pirated CDs that sell for a few dollars and these attract weekly customers. A pirate market is one operating at prices customers can afford.

In the absence of cinemas, this is probably one of the cheapest forms of entertainment available short of home brewed drinks, and can be sampled at home or in video booths alongside bars.

The only question is whether these buyers of pirate videos will be willing to pay the same or slightly more to receive better quality, legal downloads? The logic says yes and there is some early evidence to back this up. But social habits change less quickly than technology as the variable pattern of m-money uptake across the continent illustrates.

2. Once the bandwidth is there, demand for VoD and other online video services will shoot up: The CEO of one of the companies supplying international bandwidth told me that once reliable high-speed bandwidth is in place, demand for online video services will explode.

In Kenya – which has one of the better bandwidth speeds – a You Tube clip plays for a number of minutes and then buffers. This acts as a break on anyone wanting to watch a feature film. Open that throttle and give reliable bandwidth and the demand will grow.

The more challenging aspect of this problem is that there are still high levels of data congestion in operator networks. Following a pattern I have observed for nearly 14 years, operators wait for demand to saturate their networks before investing.

They also have fears that they will not get the required return they need on the comprehensive overhaul many of these networks need to make them ready for streaming and downloads.

Here at DISCOP this week, there are plentiful rumours of major operators making an announcement that they will launch a VoD platform.

In the meantime, there are more film and video platforms than you can shake a stick at, popping up, particularly in the main content markets of Africa.

There is a video briefing that looks at three of these platforms at the end of this article. Some of these have a very high chance of success and others will probably fall by the wayside. The high profile attention lavished on iROKO means that international players are beginning to express more interest in Africa and offer more African VoD content.

Anyone who wants to participate in this opportunity needs to know who is out there, what content they have access to (whether they have rights to it) and how many users they have attracted.

If you thought the SMS ecosystem was complicated, then the VoD ecosystem shares some of that complexity. Key players are still acting on guesses, intuitions and feelings, without much market data and comprehensive research.

Some of the findings are fascinating and unexpected. Unfortunately and despite recent efforts, the African audiovisual market is not well documented.

There’s so little real research available on this market – especially on the emerging VoD segment – that this piece of research should prove invaluable. Key players in the VoD segment need to be ready for VoD uptake in the years to come.

What is Second Screen?

Second screen refers to the use of an additional electronic device (e.g. tablet, smartphone or the computer) by individuals who are already watching the television.

Second Screen App is an software application primarily created to enrich the viewing experience on the First Screen, the screen where the live event and/or linear content is rendered, to which the Second Screen App relates.

Second Screen Device, sometimes also referred to as “companion device” or “digital media controller”, is a term that refers to an additional electronic device that allows a content consumer to interact with the content they are consuming, such as TV shows, movies, music, or video games. Extra data is displayed on a portable device with the content being viewed on television.


Social television creates a need and opportunity for interaction between the sender and content consumers. This involves new services, applications and changes in content production. The use of second screen provides a parallel path, whereby the user can become an active agent in the broadcast content or in just some other activity, rather than interrupt playback.

The concept is being expanded to include live events like keynote speeches, meetings and seminars where the “first screen” is the main presentation screen, and participants use smartphones and tablets to mirror the main screen and/or view ancillary information.


Several studies show a clear tendency of the user to use a device while watching television. They also show a greater frequency of use of tablet or smartphone when watching television, and other studies distinguish a higher percentage of comments or posts on social networks, about the content that’s being watched (Nielsen ratings) [9][10][11] As well, Google has published a study where they define some apparent new behaviors on the part of users when consuming content via multiple devices.

On these studies, many companies both in content production and advertising have adapted their formats to the user, trying to get maximum attention and thus profits. Applications are becoming a natural extension of television programming, both live and on demand.


Many applications in the “second screen” are designed to give another form of interactivity to the user and another way to sell advertising content. Some examples:

Transmission of the Master’s Golf Tournament, application for the iPhone (rating information and publicity)

TV programs broadcast live tweets and comment.

Synchronization of audio visual content via web advertising.

Applications that extend the content information.

Shows that add on their websites, content devoted exclusively to the second screen

Applications that synchronize the content being viewed to the portable device.

Video game console playing with extra data, such as a map or strategy data, that synchronize with the content being viewed to the portable device.

TV discovery application with recommendation, EPG (live content), personalization.


Projects and Research activity which is addressing 2nd screen includes:

SAM: Socialising Around Media: Leading European Research Project on Second Screen, Content Syndication and Social Media.

Sports Broadcasting

Sports broadcasters, to stem the flight of the TV audience away from watching the main screen (new name for the television) to the second screen, are offering alternative content to the main program. The idea is to present content related to the main program, such as unseen moments, alternative information, soundtrack, and characters. Proposed new technologies allow the viewer to see different camera angles while watching the game.]

TV2 (Denmark), Denmark’s largest commercial TV channel, synchronized its Second Screen service to live events of the Giro d’Italia 2012 bicycling from May 5 to May 27, 2012, whereby viewers on all internet devices could get rider stats, biographies, news, stage reviews, city info, weather info and the like. Viewers scanned a QR code on the TV broadcast to get connected, or typed in a short URL.

In the US, HDNet Fights utilizes a second screen service to synchronize to live MMA broadcasts, where viewers on smartphones and tablets could get stats, vote on fights and rounds, chat, win prizes, and see how fellow second screen users voted to win fights.