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When was the last time you sat on your couch to watch a random TV series? Or the last time you were flipping channels to see what was new on TV. If you don’t remember, don’t worry. Soon nobody will, either, thanks to video on demand.

Currently, 70% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 watch television on the internet and only 33% of them have ever seen a live program (and that’s just for important events like sports). This shows how important it has become for people to have control of what they watch and when they watch it.

This is the evolution of TV. Since the beginning of the late 20s, television has gone through several transformations: the arrival of colour, sound and the latest and most disruptive: the internet. The internet has created a whole new format to watch the latest episode or webisode of your favorite series or your current guilty pleasure. Game of Thrones marathon, anyone?

The internet has opened the door to video on demand.  Video on demand is, so to speak, television, only way better. Today it’s unthinkable to miss our favorite series because of a late night at work or miss the final football match of the league because of traffic. Times have changed.

 Research suggests that video on demand is blooming and we’ll see its peak by 2019

 

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Jordi Miró

Jordi Miró, ex- CTO of Wuaki TV agreed with how different is the TV world right now. With over 17 years in management positions related to technology and television companies, he predicts that watching TV in the traditional way is old-fashioned. “[Video on demand] is the only way my children will consume content. They want to watch what they want, when they want. Video on demand will continue to grow and take away space from broadcast television.”

According to Miró, the customer has become more demanding over time and because of that, companies have to be prepared to reinvent constantly. “Video on demand is to today’s viewer what video clubs were less than two decades ago. But now consumers are seeking immediacy and quality of service. We in the industry have to create new strategies to offer the best service to the audience.”

Today, with platforms like Youtube and Vimeo you can have your personal video channel. You can create your own series showing vignettes of your daily life on Snapchat and Instagram (which has its own type of YouTube long-form videos now), and even witness your friends’ lives in real time through Facebook live. With all these options, video on demand has to keep up with the times in which we live and constantly innovate and come up with different offerings.

With so much competition popping up everyday, some companies have pushed the boundaries even further by creating their own productions, as we have seen with Amazon Prime and Netflix. In 2013, Netflix’s House of Cards was the first webisode of a television series to win a Primetime Emmy Award. In 2016 Netflix won 54 Emmy nominations, an award that once was solely occupied by the cable and broadcast companies. It was surpassed only by industry giants HBO and FX. This proved that video on demand was poised to be the industry leade. Not just for consumption, but for production on the small screen as well.

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Data transfer projections to 2020 (Source: Bell Labs)

Virtual reality: the future of VOD?

 

Virtual Reallity has been taking large steps recently.

The video game market is estimated to have generated $108.9 billion (€92.5 billon) in revenue by the end of 2017. This growth may partly be attributed to the rise of VR in games. Gamers say that VR is giving the sensation of control and power in games like never before. People who used to plays two hours per week are increasing to six thanks to VR.

But although VR is still considered an emerging market, it isn’t limited to just video games (although that is certainly the biggest market for VR right now). Porn is taking a big part of the cake, too.

“I’ve been introducing a lot of people to VR over the past few months, and that first experience is incredibly intense. But when you throw hardcore pornography at them on top of that, it can sometimes feel like a bit of sensory overload,” confesses Ian Paul, Chief Information Officer of Naughty America to Nextweb.

But we can’t see the same effect in the small screen. The reason? Jordi Miró says that it’s something practical: “Virtual reality is an incredible experience but in other areas, for me it is hard to see its implementation on TV. Just see the image of me and my kids watching TV and each one wearing VR glasses is uncomfortable and unnatural. Watching movies is also about the social experience. Watching a movie for two hours in the living room with people with whom you can’t interact with is difficult”

Maybe Virtual Reality has to innovate in order to create a more social experience.

The new cinema

Nothing beats the comfort of home.

Watching a movie in your pajamas while eating dinner without having to consider the people around you. Hitting pause, be it to go to the toilet, take an important phone call or just to react to that plot twist with your partner or friends.

It is with this level of comfort that video on demand is taking apart the cinema.

VOD is offering films in high quality, HDR, releasing productions whose quality are on the same level as the big screen. For example, Netflix has won two Oscars for the Best Documentary Feature for The Square and Virunga.

Piracy

Internet Piracy is an ongoing problem that has been plaguing the industry.

In April 2016 the first chapter of the sixth season of Games of Thrones was illegally downloaded one million times in just one hour. This resulted in losses to advertisers and the production studio. And these leaks happen all the time.

Despite painstaking efforts by the studios to promote the series and at the same time maintain secrecy, piracy has foiled their best laid plans.

Jordi Miró says the piracy phenomenon is different from country to country: “There is a cultural component where the Nordic countries have a lower piracy rate than countries in the south. It is a combination of stricter laws and a general view of piracy as synonymous with stealing. In countries like Spain and Latin America the concept of illegally downloading content is not associated with committing a crime. It is a matter of educating people so they realize that the content needs to be paid for.”

It’s a very-hard-to-fight phenomenon. In the UK alone, audiovisual companies report annual losses of around £500 Million (€562 Million) per year due to piracy.

The Video on Demand industry still has long way to go. However, it will be interesting to see how technologies like VR will affect it, how it will shape the landscape of the audiovisual industry, especially TV and cinema, and how it will contend with the challenges of piracy. Stay tuned.