Satellite TV and VOD – Putting Viewers in Control

Video on Demand (VOD) systems are revolutionizing home television viewing for consumers. Such systems personalize the viewing experience by allowing users to create their own schedule of their favorite movies and programming, freeing them from schedules created by networks and channels. The most recent JD Power & Associates survey however, indicates that consumer use of VOD has not yet reached its current capacity, as only 21% of viewers indicated that they had ordered a VOD service in 2005. Lack of awareness about the benefits and availability of Video on Demand and perhaps consumer comfort with the concept are possible factors in the limited use of this technology.

Video on Demand systems can be offered via "streaming" or download to a digital video recorder. Streaming takes up a tremendous amount of bandwidth and is most often used by cable companies. Downloading to DVR is more commonly offered via satellite television. Both systems allow users to choose when to watch selected programming so that a racing fan in Illinois for instance, doesn't have to get up at 4:00 am to view a race being broadcast from Japan.

A digital video recorder (DVR) may also be referred to as personal video recorder (PVR). These devices encode video data in MPEG format and store the data on hard drive. A digital video recorder offers a number of advantages to the consumer giving them greater control over their television viewing. First and foremost, it allows users to record live TV shows to hard disk in digital format; no tapes required. The DVR offered by Dish Network, for instance has a 120 gigabyte hard drive capable of recording 100 hours of programming in digital quality. It allows users to tape shows / movies even while watching another pre-recorded show. Recorded content of course, can be copied onto videotape or DVD for archiving if desired. Other features include the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV programming. The Dish Network DVR allows the viewer to skip commercials by selecting a 30 second "skip" option or to instantly replay scenes by selecting a 10 second "skip back" option. In addition, the DVR gives viewers an on screen program guide complete with program descriptions, times, and titles. DVR equipment is approximately the size of a VHS recorder and prices average from $ 450- $ 750 although some cable and satellite companies offer the equipment at no additional charge when initiating services. The Dish Network service, for instance, offers their DVR free with their programming packages and offer the DVR / VOD type service free with their America's Everything Package. Other Dish Network packages offer the DVR / VOD service for $ 5.98 per month.

Clearly the necessary technology and equipment for video on demand is readily available in the US and the benefits for home viewers seem impressive, however, are all viewers ready for this service? Perhaps not quite yet for some but that is expected to change quickly. For younger consumers who grew up playing videogames and attaching mobile devices to their bodies, the concept of pushing buttons and taking control over their entertainment, their interactions, and so forth is an expectation not just an option. As all Americans become more technologically savvy VOD services will begin to realize their full potential.

Source by Christine Peppler

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