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Video on demand

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The BBC iPlayer interface on the Freesat digital service

Video on demand (VOD) or audio and video on demand (AVOD) are systems which allow
users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content when they choose to, rather than
having to watch at a specific broadcast time. IPTV technology is often used to bring video on
demand to televisions and personal computers.[1]
Television VOD systems can either stream content through a set-top box, a computer or other
device, allowing viewing in real time, or download it to a device such as a computer, digital
video recorder (also called a personal video recorder) or portable media player for viewing at
any time. The majority of cable- and telco-based television providers offer both VOD
streaming, including pay-per-view and free content, whereby a user buys or selects a movie or
television program and it begins to play on the television set almost instantaneously, or
downloading to a DVR rented from the provider, or downloaded onto a PC, for viewing in the
future. Internet television, using the Internet, is an increasingly popular form of video on
Some airlines offer AVOD as in-flight entertainment to passengers through individually
controlled video screens embedded in seatbacks or armrests or offered via portable media
players. Airline AVOD systems offer passengers the opportunity to select specific stored video
or audio content and play it on demand including pause, fast forward, and rewind.
Other forms of video on demand also include "subscription video on demand" (SVOD),
which includes services such as Netflix that require users to pay a monthly fee to access a
bundled set of content. Another subset of video on demand is "advertising video on demand"
(another kind of AVOD), which includes services such as Hulu or Sony's Crackle. This AVOD
is often free for users, and the platforms rely on selling advertisements as a main revenue


1 Early development

2 Functionality

3 History

4 Role of piracy and peer to peer

5 Subscription video on demand

6 Near video on demand

7 Push video on demand

8 Additional categories of video on demand

9 Catch up TV

10 See also

11 Notes

12 References

Early development

Developing VOD required extensive negotiations to identify a financial model that would
serve both content creators and cable providers while providing desirable content for viewers.
Key factors identified for determining the economic viability of the VOD model included
VOD movie buy rates, Hollywood and cable operator revenue splits.[2]
Cable providers offered VOD as part of digital subscription packages, which by 2005,
primarily allowed cable subscribers to only access an on-demand version of content that was
already provided in linear distribution. Included in these packages were "extras" and "bonus
footage" rather than full episodes of television shows.

Download and streaming video on demand systems provide the user with a large subset of
VCR functionality including pause, fast forward, fast rewind, slow forward, slow rewind,
jump to previous/future frame etc. These functions are called 'trick modes'. For disk-based
streaming systems which store and stream programs from hard disk drive, trick modes require
additional processing and storage on the part of the server, because separate files for fast
forward and rewind must be stored. Memory-based VOD streaming systems have the
advantage of being able to perform trick modes directly from RAM, which requires no
additional storage or CPU cycles on the part of the processor.

It is possible to put video servers on LANs, in which case they can provide very rapid
response to users. Streaming video servers can also serve a wider community via a WAN, in
which case the responsiveness may be reduced. Download VOD services are practical to
homes equipped with cable modems or DSL connections. Servers for traditional cable and
telco VOD services are usually placed at the cable head-end serving a particular market as
well as cable hubs in larger markets. In the telco world, they are placed in either the central
office, or a newly created location called a Video Head-End Office (VHO).

From September 1994, a VOD service formed a major part of the Cambridge Digital
Interactive Television Trial[3] in England. This provided video and data to 250 homes and a
number of schools connected to the Cambridge Cable network (later part of NTL, now Virgin
Media). The MPEG-1 encoded video was streamed over an ATM network from an ICL media
server to set top boxes designed by Acorn Online Media. The trial commenced at a speed of 2
Mbit/s to the home, subsequently increased to 25 Mbit/s.[4] The content was provided by the
BBC and Anglia Television. Although a technical success, difficulty in sourcing content was a
major issue, and the project closed in 1996.
In 1998, Kingston Communications became the first UK company to launch a fully
commercial VOD service and the first to integrate broadcast TV and Internet access through a
single set-top box using IP delivery over ADSL. By 2001, Kingston Interactive TV had
attracted 15,000 subscribers. After a number of trials, HomeChoice followed in 1999, but
were restricted to London. After attracting 40,000 customers, they were bought by Tiscali in
2006 who were in turn bought by Talk Talk in 2009. Cable TV providers Telewest and NTL
(now Virgin Media) launched their VOD services in the United Kingdom in 2005, competing
with the leading traditional pay TV distributor BSkyB. BSkyB responded by launching Sky by
broadband, later renamed Sky Anytime on PC. The service went live on 2 January 2006. Sky
Anytime on PC uses a legal peer-to-peer approach, based on Kontiki technology, to provide
very high capacity multi-point downloads of the video content. Instead of the video content all
being downloaded from Sky's servers, the content comes from multiple users of the system
who have already downloaded the same content. Other UK TV broadcasters have
implemented their own versions of the same technology, such as the BBC's iPlayer, which
launched on 25 December 2007, and Channel 4's 4oD (4 On Demand) which launched in late
2006. Another example of online video publishers using legal peer-to-peer technology is
based on Giraffic technology which was launched in early 2011 with large Online Video-onDemand publishers such as US based VEOH and UK based Craze's OnlineMoviesBox movie
rental service. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 planned to launch a joint platform provisionally
called Kangaroo in 2008.[5] This was abandoned in 2009 following complaints investigated by
the Competition Commission. That same year, the assets of the defunct Kangaroo project
were bought by Arqiva,[6] who used the technology behind Kangaroo to launch the SeeSaw
service in February 2010.[7] A year later, however, SeeSaw was shut down from lack of

VOD services are now available in all parts of the United States, which has the highest global
take-up rate of VOD.[9] In 2010, 80% of American Internet users had watched video online,[10]
and 42% of mobile users who downloaded video preferred apps to a normal browser.[11]
Streaming VOD systems are available on desktop and mobile platforms from cable providers
(in tandem with cable modem technology) who use the large downstream bandwidth present
on cable systems to deliver movies and television shows to end users, who can typically
pause, fast-forward, and rewind VOD movies due to the low latency and random-access
nature of cable technology. The large distribution of a single signal makes streaming VOD
impractical for most satellite TV systems. Both EchoStar/Dish Network and DirecTV offer
video on demand programming to PVR-owning subscribers of their satellite TV service. Once
the programs have been downloaded onto a user's PVR, he or she can watch, play, pause, and
seek at their convenience. VOD is also quite common in more expensive hotels. VOD systems
that store and provide a user interface for content downloaded directly from the Internet are
widely available.[citation needed]
According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, 142 paying VOD services were
operational in Europe at the end of 2006. The number increased to 650 by 2009.[12]
At the January 2010 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Sezmi CEO Buno Pati and
president Phil Wiser showed a set-top box with a one-terabyte hard drive which could be used
for video on demand services previously offered through cable TV or broadband. A movie, for
example, could be sent out once using a broadcast signal, rather than numerous times over
cable or fiber-optic lines, and this would not involve the expense of adding many miles of
lines. Sezmi planned to lease broadcast spectrum to offer a subscription service which
National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon H. Smith said would provide a
superior picture to that of cable or satellite, at a lower cost.[13]
Role of piracy and peer to peer

Although video on demand generally refers to delivery mechanisms operating in accordance

with applicable laws, the motivation for the development of video on demand services can be
traced back to peer-to-peer networking and the development of file sharing software. These
innovations proved that it was technically possible to offer the consumer potentially every
film ever made, in a way that does not burden the original provider without the linear costs
associated with centralised streaming media.
Many legal services such as Spotify[14] use peer to peer distribution to better scale their
platforms with the likes of Netflix considering doing so[15] to cope with net neutrality
problems from downstream providers.
Torrenting is a popular alternative to legal streaming[16] with 6%[17] of global internet traffic
involved in file sharing applications.
Subscription video on demand

Subscription video on demand (SVOD) is a service offered by pay systems, which charges
their subscribers a monthly fee for accessing unlimited programs.
Near video on demand
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a
worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article or discuss
the issue on the talk page. (February 2015)

Near video on demand (NVOD) is a pay-per-view consumer video technique used by multichannel broadcasters using high-bandwidth distribution mechanisms such as satellite and
cable television. Multiple copies of a program are broadcast at short time intervals (typically
1020 minutes) providing convenience for viewers, who can watch the program without
needing to tune in at a scheduled point in time. This form is bandwidth intensive and is
generally provided only by large operators with a great deal of redundant capacity and has
been reduced in popularity as video on demand is implemented; only the satellite services
Dish Network and DirecTV continue to seriously provide NVOD experiences out of necessity
as many of their customers have no access to their broadband VOD servies. Before the rise of
video on demand, pay-per-view provider In Demand facilitated this need by providing up to
40 channels in 2002, with several films receiving up to four channels on the staggered
schedule to provide the NVOD experience. As of 2014, only four channels (2 in high
definition, two in standard definition) are provided to facilitate live and event coverage, along
with existing league out-of-market sports coverage channels (varied by provider) by the
Push video on demand

Push video on demand is a technique used by a number of broadcasters on systems that lack
connectivity to provide true video on demand or by broadcasters who want to optimize their
video streaming infrastructure by pre-loading the most popular contents to the consumer
device. A push VOD system uses a personal video recorder (PVR) to store a selection of
content, often transmitted in spare capacity overnight or all day long at low bandwidth. Users
can watch the downloaded content at the time they desire, immediately and without any
buffering issue. As content occupies space on the PVR hard drive, downloaded content is
usually deleted after a week to make way for newer programs. The limited space on a PVR
hard drive means that the selection of programs is usually restricted to most popular content.
A new generation of Push VOD solution recently appeared on the market which, by using
efficient error correction mechanisms, can free significant amount of bandwidth and that can
deliver more than video e.g. magazines, interactive applications.
Additional categories of video on demand

Interactive video on demand (IVOD) is the standard version of video on

demand where people have the following features at their disposal:
1. Play/Resume - Start a program/movie from the beginning or resume
after temporarily stopping the show.

2. Stop - Temporarily or permanently stop the presentation of the show.

3. Pause - Freeze the picture.
4. Jump forward - Jump to a particular time in the presentation (movie)
in a forward direction.
5. Jump backward - Jump to a particular time in the presentation
(movie) in a backward direction.
6. Fast Forward (FF) - Browse through the movie in the forward
direction with picture and sound on.
7. Slow Down - Going forward at a lower rate than normal but with
picture and sound.
8. Reverse - Playing the movie in the reversed direction with picture
and sound.
9. Fast Reverse - Browse the presentation in the backward direction
with picture and sound at a faster speed than standard reverse.
10.Slow Reverse: Go backward at a slower speed, with picture and
11.Other interactive features include the ability to avoid or select
advertisements, to investigate additional details about news events
and to browse, select, and purchase goods.

Exclusive video on demand (EVOD) is when a particular TV-based VOD

content provider offers a function, service and/or program that no other
content provider has, it might be called exclusive video on demand.

Impulse video on demand (IVOD) is now typically referred to as "video on

demand" but in the past, this term often referred to the ability to order TVbased video on demand programming, without having to first phone in
your order to the network operator.

Quasi video on demand (QVOD) is the same as near video on demand

except that the programming only will be presented if a minimum number
of subscribers sign up for it.

Transactional video on demand (TVOD) is the opposite of subscription

video on demand (SVOD). With transactional VOD the customer pays for
each individual video on demand program. Secure TVOD authenticates to
the video server to verify payment and authorize based on IP address. With
its opposite, SVOD, typically the subscriber pays a set amount, (often
monthly) for a set amount of video on demand. Now most refer to
transactional VOD simply as "VOD".

Free video on demand (FVOD) is video on demand programming that a

network operator makes available as part of a content package. FVOD can
make it possible for subscribers to have unlimited access to

movies/programming offered during a specific time period. The opposite

would be subscriber video on demand (SVOD) where a subscriber pays a
standard fee for programming that may have no, or limited
advertisements. OnDemand is a UK-based company owned by the On
Demand Group which offers FVOD through Inview Technology; their
product Inview Inside is Royalty Free.
Catch up TV

Catch up TV (or Replay TV) is VOD in which TV shows are available for a period of days
after the original television broadcast. Services provided by broadcasting agents use this
terminology when offering typically time limited on VOD options on schedules aligned with
their main transmissions.
See also


Music on demand

Comparison of video hosting services

Broadband Users Control What They Watch and When
Rizzuto, Ronald J.Wirth (2002). "The Economics of Video On Demand: A
Simulation Analysis". Journal of Media Economics 15 (3): 209.
The Cambridge iTV Trial
Cambridge Corners the Future in Networking, TUANZ Topics, Volume 05, No.
10, November 1995
Sweney, Mark (2007-11-27). "Broadcasters to launch joint VoD service". The
Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-01-13.
"Arqiva to launch video-on-demand service using Kangaroo technology".
BBC. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
"Internet TV service Seesaw launches beta trial". BBC. 2010-01-26. Retrieved
"Arqiva to close SeeSaW". BroadbandTvNews. 2011-05-27. Retrieved 201209-25.
"Percentage of subscribers who use video on demand on the TV by country in
2010 and 2011". Statista. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
Saylor, Michael (2012). The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will
Change Everything. Perseus Books/Vanguard Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-1593157203.
Video on demand and catch-up TV in Europe
Dickson, Glen (2010-01-09). "NAB Shows Off New Spectrum Applications".
Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
Ernesto. "Spotify: A Massive P2P Network, Blessed by Record Labels".
Retrieved 22 March 2014.
Brinkmann, Martin. "Could Netflix switch to P2P to lower ISP pressure?".
Retrieved 22 March 2014.
Siegal, Jacob. "Netflix for pirates brings streaming video to BitTorrent users".
Retrieved 22 March 2014.
"Application Usage & Threat Report".