On Demand Summit: Navigating the VOD Marketplace

New York -- With some video-on-demand libraries topping 100,000 programs to search through, simple navigation through the material is critical to surviving in a competitive VOD marketplace.

In fact, ease of navigation is the biggest challenge standing between providers and cosumers, Corey Ferengul, executive vice president of Rovi, said during the "Winning the Click: Using Technology to Mix a Better Cocktail" session at the B&C/Multichannel News On Demand Summit 3.0 conference here Wednesday.

"Volume is something easy to market," said Louise Wasilewski, director of On Demand software, Cox Communications. "More content makes sense when you can target it very clearly."

Tricia Lynch, senior programming executive at Verizon, recommends that VOD providers employ recommendations to viewers based on their historical usage; this model "gets better as you use it," she said.

Additionally, VOD must adapt itself to the multiple platforms on which consumers choose to view their programming, panelists said. For example, Lynch noted that Verizon's FlexView movie sales and rental service will have an app later this year. The service, currently available only to FiOS suscribers, will branch out to non-subscribers as well via smartphones and tablets. "I'm taking the programming where customers want it," Lynch said.

(A Verizon spokesperson later clarified Lynch's comments, saying, "We are always looking at ways to extend On Demand content. A service like Verizon's Flex View allows us to look at ways to expand outside our FiOS customer base which is part of the long-range product road map.")

Flex View is only one example of a VOD service expanding to multiple platforms. Verizon's Lynch said putting VOD across multiple screens "is very complex and we absolutely depend on partners to get there." The combination of rights issues and enforcing the rules from programming partners makes the development of VOD for smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices more complicated, she said, but she predicted that Verizon will see a big conversion in the next couple of years.

In the question of dynamic ad insertion, Wasilewski said Cox is "following Canoe's lead, and there has been a stronger interest in the RFI application than advertising." Joe Noonan, COO of Viamedia, added, "The metrics are different."