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Online Video Trumps Cable VoD

Mari Silbey
11/5/2013

Online video is beating cable VoD at its own game.

According to data from Rentrak Corp. (Nasdaq: RENT) and analysis by nScreenMedia analyst Colin Dixon, cable VoD viewing sessions grew 30 percent between 2009 and October 2013, which isn’t bad. But online video viewing time jumped 300 percent.

The online video numbers don't sound as impressive for absolute viewing time. Dixon estimates that the average cable subscriber requests 19 VoD titles per month. In comparison, comScore Inc. concludes that viewers spend an average of 21 hours per month watching video online.

However, comScore also says that online video views soared from 14.8 billion in Jan 2009 to 46 billion in September 2013. According to Rentrak, there have been 9 billion cable VoD viewing sessions so far this year.

Online viewing measurements cover content from many cable, telecom, and satellite TV providers. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s Streampix subscription streaming service, Redbox Instant by Verizon, and various TV Everywhere offerings across the pay-TV landscape all contribute to online video totals. However, so too do Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), YouTube Inc. , and the like. Given the amount of Internet traffic attributed to Netflix alone, it's a safe bet that over-the-top (OTT) video consumption dwarfs any online video viewing done through pay-TV services.

The cable industry is making an effort to step up its VoD game. Comcast, for example, launched a Watchathon promotion in March giving subscribers free access to premium VoD content for a week. The MSO later reported that the event netted "double-digit percentage increases" in VoD viewing. (See: Comcast Watchathon Nets VoD Boost.)

A single promotion isn't going to close the gap between VoD and online video, but it is a good first step. Too bad OTT providers aren't willing to stand still while cable operators try to catch up.

— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
11/5/2013 | 10:26:48 AM
U-Verse
Did he look at IPTV and U-Verse at all? My U-Verse on-demand is pathetic. It has no new releases and only a few random old movies. I was surprised to see how poor the selection was. Online is definitely my preference, but out of necessity.
albreznick
albreznick
11/5/2013 | 4:21:56 PM
Re: U-Verse
that's surprising, Sarah. I would have thought U-nerse had better options than that. I think FiOS does. That's a real gap that AT&T needs to fill. 
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