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back to article Punters 'pooh-pooh video on demand'

Viewers can't cope with the enormous responsibility of choice that personal video provides, according to US researchers at Hill Holliday. Five Bostonian families had their access to broadcast video cut entirely over Christmas and replaced with the latest video-on-demand technology. Deciding what to demand proved more than most …

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Anonymous Coward

TiVo

"TiVo arrived in the UK in 2000, so some 15-year-olds have never known TV without instant choice"

Not just that ... we got a TiVo 10 years ago when our sons were 1 and 5 so indeed grew up with this as "normal". Certainly had problems when visiting other houses etc where they (especially younger one) were unable to comprehend at times that we couldn't just press pause or record so they could continue watching later when we were about to have a meal etc!

"but the inability to understand the attraction of channel surfing was almost certainly what caused it (and its contemporaries) to fail when launched on this side of the pond"

the primary reason why TiVo failed on "this side of the pond" was that they handed over the responsibility of advertising it and handling customers to Sky not realizing that Sky had a (much inferior) competitor that they would launch 6 months later. The initial TiVo advertising was woeful and didn't stand a chance as soon as Sky+ was ready since Sky plastered continuous Sky+ demos/ads onto all its channels when no programs were being shown. Reason I went for TiVo was that I'd been working in the US around the time it was launched there and had at the time thought it looked great and only didn't get one since we were about to return to the UK.

Suppose there's a slight learning curve in getting used to a TiVo world but seriously apart from "live" programs (news and sports) we rarely watch anything "as broadcast". And with children having a season pass to ensure that every day there are new episodes of teletubbies/balamory/scooby-doo/ben-10 or now QI ready to watch is great.

Looking forward to my new VM TiVo arriving in 7 days time!

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I have BT Vision

and rarely use the On Demand service (2 films, and 1 episode of Ben 10 in the past 4 years). Series I really want to see get recorded (most are on after 9pm, and I can rarely be bothered to stay up past 10pm), but for me (and, I suspect, most 30-somethings) TV is a passive medium - i.e. I'll plonk down in front of it and let it wash over me, often whilst talking or reading, activities which will get the most of my attention, only paying attention to the TV if something interesting comes on.

My kids seem keener on watching what they want, when they want (probably because they're all under 5, and haven't discovered patience), but that's far more likely to come off YouTube (or Megaupload) than BT Vision, as I really don't see any value in paying for TV.

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And they say responsible parenting is dead....

"My kids seem keener on watching what they want, when they want [...], but that's far more likely to come off YouTube (or Megaupload) than BT Vision, as I really don't see any value in paying for TV."

To paraphrase:

Kids, Daddy can't be arsed buying you stuff, so go out and steal it, OK?

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FAIL

Vocabulary

Perhaps your daddy should have taught you the meaning of the word "steal".

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Coat

Yeah, you know, stealing

like when you watch a DVD at a friends house without getting the content owner's permission, or when you flick through a magazine in Tesco before buying it.

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This never occured to me.

As a single person I do not use broadcast TV at all -- preferring DVDs and online sources to watch what I want when I want. Even with friends, or whatever, bunging on a few episodes of a comedy or watching a DVD is preferable to live telly because adverts are annoying and programmes can't be resumed another day.

However, I hadn't considered that there might be situations, such as just wanting to shut the kids up or view as a family, where a schedule could help -- not only by removing the need to choose while busy or stressed but also by meaning that the only dispute is which channel not which one of thousands of programmes. For such a simple study it seems to tell quite a bit about family life in the US.

That said, I can't help thinking that effective parenting would allow a parent to schedule a couple of episodes of Postman Pat, In The Night Garden, or whatever every day when they wanted peace for a while after dinner.

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Black Helicopters

Conspiracy theory...?

"the inability to understand the attraction of channel surfing was almost certainly what caused it (and its contemporaries) to fail when launched on this side of the pond, and to struggle so much in America."

Didn't Murdoch's Sky effectively kill TiVo the first time around in the UK?

R.

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Anonymous Coward

I anticipate this isn't a shock?

Some folks want to be able to choose everything every time, some folks want to have choices of content and time made for them every time. Both are a minority. I'd guess 80% of the population lies somewhere in the middle. It is a reflection of the printed media.

To force punters down the road of personal choice on everything is only to the long term benefit, at the moment, of content suppliers and owners.The more it happens the more the punter will pay... There is nothing attractive for the majority in doing that, is there?

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Stop

All I see...

...is that alongside video on demand we a series of 'trailer channels', each for a different genre or actor.

Once people get used to not being spoonfed moron-TV and start picking stuff based on what's available through fair and equal advertising then maybe we'll start to get rid of the junk on television.

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who sponsored Hill Holiday?

was this perhaps funded by one of the incumbents?

With Netflix, Hulu and the soon to appear Amazon Unbox Prime (or whatever they call it) and a Media Center PC with an antenna on the roof we've mostly eliminated the need for TV coming over the cable.

we love the fact that we're no longer tied to the timeslots set by the network and can take control back over our schedule.

If we could pick a la carte programming or have access to every show available on-demand from the moment it first airs... then I'd happily continue to pay the CableCo tax... but to them we're not the customers, the advertisers are so all their efforts go into manipulating our behaviour to maximize their revenue

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The right Interface is the key

It needs is the right interface (and hopefully not from Apple), such that the meta-data will suggest other programs to watch, i.e. it cleverly guesses what you might want to watch next and puts it on, if you don't like it you effectively still channel surf to some other content..

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Linux

Yes. The interface is the key.

Yes. The interface is key and you can be overwhelmed by choices even if you're an anal iconoclastic Linux user. However, there are smart ways to manage that that are driven by your own choices. Tivo has something like this and so does Netflix and Pandora does this for music.

It's simple enough to allow a device that already knows what you like to pick something for you.

The interface is the key but the key to the interface is data.

Selection is also an issue. Many VoD systems simply have none. They are poor replacements for LiveTV or a Tivo with 3TB of storage space.

Of course crap VoD is going to get the boot.

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@David Ward 1

So, you are agreeing with the results of the experiment: what you call "the right interface," really means the right interface for viewing content which is pre-programmed automatically, and not "on-demand." Customizing the programming based on user preferences is still programming, not "on-demand".

-dZ.

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Linux

Netflix is not "programming"

Netflix is not "programming".

It's a brilliant bit of NewSpeak to call suggestions based on your own choices "programming".

Programming is what happens when people you don't even know try to make choices without even asking you or perhaps intentionally disregard you.

No. The equivalent of an iTunes playlist or smart playlist is not "programming".

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Paris Hilton

Virgin on demand - Lack of choice

I sometimes wonder if they actually want video-on-demand to actually succeed.

I started off really liking Virgin's video on demand, and indeed would often rave to friends about it. But over time it has gradually deteriorated. The biggest problem is the lack of decent content.

Catch Up TV (selection from last 7 days - free) - While sometimes useful, has little watchable content, mostly of which seems to be crap daytime TV shows and is nearly always watchable legally elsewhere (iPlayer, 4od etc)

TV Choice On Demand (old series, documentaries etc) - I used to pay the additional £5 a month to get this (only have the "small" TV package) and loved it. The ability to get this separately has now been removed and you have purchase their top TV package, along with an email suggesting this is somehow a good thing. Not that I care anymore, the content is updated so infrequently that it doesn't take long to watch everything worth watching.

Movies - About the only bit that is still worth using.

Paris because there must be some angle involving virgins, videos and being demanding.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Catch Up TV

About the only reason to power up the the Virgin box is to watch iPlayer through the telly where I can lounge on sofa instead of office chair

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Boffin

It depends what you want out of TV, I suspect

If you want there to be *something* on (who cares what, I'm tired, it's been a long day, etc) then On-Demand is never going to compete with broadcast TV serving up the likes of C4, C4+1, E4, E4+1, Dave, Dave+ and however many other channels are out there which don't offer you any risk of seeing content less than 5 years old.

I do wonder why On-Demand service providers don't have a random or "channel" function, that lines up between 1 and 3 hours worth of content for you based on some loose criteria (eg comedy, drama, documentary, etc). I mean, it's all just another approach to accessing the same content. (I'm trying to work out how to get XBMC to pick a random TV series episode/film on command in anticipation of finishing the Extended DVD Rip Project of 2011 in the next couple of months, because I can imagine this being an issue...)

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Lack of good interface

The problem with VOD services is that people dont discover new programmes and they dont find out when new episodes or series of programmes they like become available, the reason for this is that they fast forward through the adverts. The majority of VOD service interfaces simply show a list of shows and people browse past shows of interest simply because they dont have a catchy title. What is needed is an advert for each show and for shows to be organised in to categories, you should be able to watch a string of short adverts for shows in succession order to find a new show to watch.

You also need a system of bookmarking shows and a notification that new episodes of selected shows are available to watch, this is what hampers current VOD services that aren't based on recording shows from an Electronic Program Guide schedule.

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NetFlix

Recently discovered NetFlix on-demand service here in Canada and, although the content is limited as yet, it is a breath of fresh air. More TV than I could ever watch.

Compared to the cable channels it is great. In the UK, you could usually find something to watch on the 5 analogue channels but here, we have about 80-90 channels and regularly nothing to watch.

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Pint

Netflix indeed

My first reaction to the headline:

If VoD is so DoA, why has Netflix's Canadian launch spawned a war between customers, ISPs, regulators, and top government ministers?

Personally, it's a dream come true for me. No ads. No adherence to an arbitrary and unpredictable schedule dictated by TV executive dweebs. And I can receive the signal on just about every internet-capable device in my house.

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It is an example of

A huge range of choice but, when it finally comes to the crunch, next to nothing worth choosing.

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Channel hop

Channel hopping is somewhat of a pastime on passive TV watching. Often brings up a gem that you otherwise wouldn't have considered (eg. Downton Abbey).

However, for catching up on specific programming that you were looking forward to but have missed - iPlayer, 4oD, UTVPlayer, demand5 etc. are useful. Although only iPlayer seems to be available on the wii to use on the TV (yes I can plug a computer to the TV, and I can buy skyplayer contract months on the xbox, but the effort often outweighs the benefit).

Full series are enjoyable on DVD though, without worrying about picture quality, bandwidth, download limits, throttling, viewing before it runs out on the host system (eg. iPlayer 30 days) etc.

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Re: InITForTheMoney

I think InITForTheMoney has hit it on the head. If VOD becomes ubiquitous and people stop seeing trailers for new programs then there will be an (even greater) incentive to just churn out the same old "brands" because that is what people will know. Broadcast TV is how people find new programs.

We had kids a few years ago and just didn't get time to watch telly for maybe three years. We now have a bit more time but never watch it. The TV has genuinely not been switched on this week. The last thing I saw was Top Gear on Sunday (crap). But that is partially because we just don't know what is on any more. Add to that the fact that our free time is precious and we really don't want to waste half an hour watching something that turns out to be complete crap. So, far more often than not I'll pick up a book or go for a walk. On Friday night we watch a film from Blockbuster rental by Post.

If they insist on forcing VOD on us they may actually end up weaning the public off TV all together.

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IR

Not really

My VOD from Comcast will often have short trailers before and after the programme, and often in the middle like very short ad breaks.

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FAIL

Does anyone still watch TV?

TBH I rarely watch TV now it's so filled with soap, reality tv and other crap. I pretty much only watch TV via the internet on the catchup services for the occasional program I want to watch.

I'll get more interested when there are more programs worth watching.

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In my house we rarely watch any 'live' TV

The kids watch their favs over and over again and if there is something I want to watch it's often recorded as then I know I will be able to watch it when I want and speed through the ads. Series links save me having to worry about when something is on. Freeview plus has totally changed the way I watch tv.

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It's Friday, It's five to five and it's Crackerjack!

I said "Crackerjack" ... that's better. On any time? Just wouldn't work.

Making an effort to get in from school in time for Kylie on 'Neighbours'. Sweet.

Watching 'The Young Ones' at the same time as everyone else, knowing that it would dominate playground discussion the next day.

Childrens' TV ending each evening with 'The Wombles', 'Ivor the Engine' or 'The Magic Roundabout'. Bliss.

Now kids watch TV and message their friends about it on Facepalm, effectively watching it together.

Structure can be a wonderful thing.

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Megaphone

Channel Hopping Was Killed By Digital TV

The days of proper channel flicking were killed by digital TV, gone are the days where channels changed instantly; On the old analogue systems the channels changed instantly, on Freeview, Sky digital and Virgin digital the change takes up to a second, on IPTV, buffering...................... It takes the fun out of channel flicking and means you can't scan the channels very quickly at all.

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Pint

Personally...

...we have an OTA antenna that brings us the fixed broadcast schedules, plus NETFLIX.

We tend to endure crappy programming if we are waiting for a network program to start, dial surf if we have some time, and put on a netflix stream if there is something in our queue that we want to watch.

Our TV budget is $12 a month (we get one DVD out at a time)

Beer does not make the programs better, but it makes them more endurable.

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Paris Hilton

@Disco-Legend-Zeke

>>Beer does not make the programs better, but it makes them more endurable.

You should try blow - the right stuff can even make soap opera fascinating. I suspect a large number of those preferring programmed TV are serious weed-heads, who don't watch TV at all when not under the influence, but will happily watch anything at all when stoned.

Paris, because there's no weed icon, but I'm sure she imbibes (but doesn't inhale, of course).

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IR

One day...

The problem with VOD is that it is still set up as a file repository rather than a selection of what you want to watch (at least my Comcast version is). You have to actively look for something, knowing what it is beforehand, and often the channel/maker, and then select it to play once you have found it (while you try to remember what the last one you saw was). My DVR on the other hand is set up to record certain series, so I just turn it on and see what it has, then choose one from that. If I see a trailer for something I like the look of, I do a simple text search on the tv guide and tell it to record all the new ones. VOD will only take off properly once it has a system set up that does this - basically gives you a personalised list of available shows it knows you want to see and hides the episodes you have already seen. If you add in the TiVo functionality of it being able to guess what you might also like, then you have a real winner.

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WTF?

I have "on demand" TV...

... it's called Sky+ I record what I want to see, then watch it when I want to see it.

Currently I've got about 30 hours of programmes stacked up, I pick what I want to see when I feel like it.

It's not hard.

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Coat

pooh-pooh video on demand

Surely there are websites that can provide that, for those of a scatalogical bent?

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Anonymous Coward

Tivo pvr

I have tried Tivo, 500+ channel tv, in the US, I've noticed that the stand alone PVR in the US, is generally conspicuous by it's absence. Having watched US cable TV, more than half the channels are duplicates, either HD(why bother, the set/decoder can't cope?) or Spanish dubbed standard/HD ( I mistakenly thought that the US used English( albeit corrupted)). The content is generally totally crap, by my standards! Although I do think the UK needs Fox News to counteract the BBC left wing propaganda machine The other half of the 1K channels are PPV. I'm far,far too mean to watch those! Tivo works well, but the cost is not IMO worthwhile. I don't yet understand why the USB memory stick record/pause facility has not yet appeared as a "must have" feature for US tv receivers. Freeview seems perfectly adequate for my limited viewing pleasures in the UK (apart from the continual picture freeezes), even that suffers from a surfeit of repeats (and appalling sound quality). It seems to me that TV as an advertising medium is in severe decline, as the customers have largely given up because of the quality of the content. US friends recently stated that they now watch digital tv with subtitles, as the sound is unintelligible to older viewers. (Lousy quality TV set speakers?) They have also given up on buying/viewing owned DVDs, in favour of uploading to the cloud. There are some interesting side effects there, lend your friends/ everybody access to the file??

I am continually amused by the requirement in domestic systems for HDMI content/connectors. The actual definition achievable by HDMI is appallingly low! (Particularly on a moving picture.) Most of the time the decoding reverts to "guess what the next pixel might be!" My opinion of MPEG4 is similarly high! I'm waiting for a hifi digital system to appear---oh, I know, it's called analogue!

I see that the viewing habits of the young are now approaching 50/50 between internet and TV. Seems that TV is on a slippery slope.

Time will tell.

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Tight fisted right-whinger

You are an odd AC. You're right wing (anyone who thinks the BBC is so left wing it needs Fox News to balance it must be), but you're not willing to let market forces have their way and subscribe to pay-TV. Sounds like you don't know what you want.

It also sounds like you don't know how the tech works. HDMI is an uncompressed connection. Any artefacts would be introduced by the MPEG-4 compression, which is perfectly capable of providing extremely high quality pictures, but most broadcasters don't allocate enough bandwdth, so you end up with audio and video artefacts compared to an uncompressed medium like Blu-ray.

Ironically, while the young are increasingly switching to the internet for content, they're not particularly interested in AV quality.

This research is interesting but terribly flawed. The sample is too small to draw representative conclusions, and since there's no parity between content on the VoD and live platforms, many of the complaints revolve around not being able to find their favourite content.

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Happy

eltiT

Haven't even switched my TV on for 6 months now, and don't feel I'm missing anything at all. In fact i still don't seem to have enough time for everything I want to do.

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Meh

I've had Sky+ for several years now. I stopped watching things live within a few days. What's wrong with these people? I've not been tied to broadcast schedules for years now.

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Anonymous Coward

Probably because channel surfing

Probably because channel surfing means a choice between a few dozen likely shows/films that you have to watch now - where as video on demand presents you a huge choice of mainly unknown items which you have to try deciding on and if you do find a likely one there is a tendency to see if something better is further down list until you are bored with whole process.

The ability to start as desired and pause makes TV less in control and thus seem less important and interesting ( I certainly found that with after getting a PVR )

I can't help thinking On Demand is likely to reduce TV viewing - which seems to make it a good thing

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zb

I have no choice

I live in Brazil and get my only english language TV via iPlayer and a SOCKS proxy in London. The internet connection is pretty good and enough to stream video. Strangely, this means that in practice I watch very little TV.

When living in Europe I would turn on the TV and tune into the Beeb or Sky or whatever took my fancy. I would often spend ten minutes zapping through the channels before giving up and leaving it on a news channel. Now I have to find a list of programmes, scroll though them, select a programme etc. Usually I don't bother.

I have marked a few programmes as favourites and when I am in the mood choose one and watch the latest episode. If there is nothing there I browse through the documentaries or music sections to see if there is anything interesting.

There seem to be two factors:

The first is laziness, if it is not there instantly my boredom factor cuts in.

The second is that there is no urgency, if I do not watch it now I can watch it later. Broadcast TV is different. The program starts at 8pm whether I am tuned in or not. maybe I can catch a repeat.

If I am typical (and I am no youngster) this is not good news for the content providers.

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Anonymous Coward

Er?

"Five Bostonian families had their access to broadcast video cut entirely over Christmas and replaced with the latest video-on-demand technology."

So they took the TV away & gave them a computer with access to PirateBay?

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re: Er?

Nah, the PirateBay has more content.

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The thing is...

That if there's something on now oir at a set time that I want to watch I'll watch it or record it. If I can choose to watch it whenever I want then there is no need to watch it _NOW_ so it gets put off - indefinitely.

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FAIL

New?

Not really. Video on Demand has been around since Tudor times. The King of England could ask a Jester/harp playing esembly to play at his beck and call. These were the humble beginnings.

As for now terrestial TV died when Red Dwarf ended... Sigh.

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And for me...

...Red Dwarf died when Kristine Kochanski started. Booooo!

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Anonymous Coward

Social Network TV

Personally I think a lot of people won’t want the choice. More likely to occur is a kind of social TV where you select the type of programs you want to watch setting a sliding scale of for the type of program and then dynamically builds a schedule based on previous program viewings. Skipping a program will lower its priority in your viewing.

It will probably have some type of tagging of programs so you can share them with your social networks, and help promote them in your friends viewing. I more than likely will probably be provided by Google.

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Coat

A combination of both

I'd prefer a combination of both being able to choose whatever whenever and continuous stream live broadcast with the proviso of being able to 'rewind' a programme.

The times I have switched channels to find a programme that looks interesting but is part way through. If only there was a rewind button so I could skip back to the beginning. Having to go to iPlayer to find the programme a day later to view is not my ideal (Also the quality sucks ass and their HD versions require playback from a PC on my HDTV plus it's encoded in 25P which looks like complete shit from an interlaced source).

Give me a rewind option on currently broadcasting programmes and I will buy that box in a heartbeat!

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Choice?

I rarely watch broadcast TV. I record stuff I'm interested in on my OSD and watch it when I feel like it. Partial benefit for recording while I am at work, and partial benefit to making it a doddle to skip adverts, title sequences, etc.

If I had true on-demand video, the choice would be simple (and probably not supported). Cute Asians, zombies, and loads of fake blood. Failing that, any film with that stringy-haired Japanese ghost-girl... Stack 'em up, let 'em play.

I guess the secret to enjoying VOD is in first knowing what you enjoy.

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VOD != Video on Request

I'm in Australia and been a Tivo user for about a year when I moved into a place where Cable was just too dammed hard to get. I don't really watch broadcarst TV anymore, I just use the channel guide once a week to catch what I want to see (broadcast movies) and use season passes for regular programming.

What I thought was interesting in the video was the expectation that they could select a movie and just watch it straight away, I think thats the biggest part of peoples headspace that has to change before VOD is a replacement (either that or gig broadbang everywhere)

When I do use VOD here (and belive me the VOD options for Tivo in Australia suck) you pick a movie, and then go have dinner or go to work or something, secure in the knowledge that it'll be ready for you later, what you can't do is expect it to act like broadcast TV with inifinite channels.

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WTF?

TIVO/Sky+/Topfield

In the dim and distant past, I can just about remember what it was like to have scheduled TV, and to have to remember when and what channel a program would be on. I would then arrange my life around the broadcasters whims regarding TopGear, Red-Dwarf, Buffy, etc (it was a long time ago okay).

Do people actually watch live TV? I gave my parents a TIVO shortly after getting one myself about 10 years ago - took them about a week to become totally hooked and dependant on it.

I suppose if your experience of a PVR is the pitiful junk that is Sky+, then I can see the apathy. TIVO or more recently TopField (with the MyStuff tap installed obviously - otherwise it's useless) are superb.

Quite simply, I wouldn't be able to watch anything other than the BBC if I didn't have a PVR - the mind numbing repetition of commercials would do me in. With the Topfield , a couple of clicks of the 5min/3min/30 second skip buttons gets me through the commercials in about 2 seconds - correct the overshoot with the 10 second back button, and done.

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Urh
Grenade

Hmmm...

I feel obliged to pooh-pooh the findings that imply people are pooh-poohing video on demand. I also pooh-pooh anybody who thinks that any reliable information can be gleaned from such a small sample set.

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