VOD Not Just for Catch-Up Viewing

With the advent of subscription video-on-demand, broadcast TV distributors rolled out video-on-demand options such as HBO Go enabling pay-TV subscribers to access catalog programming on-demand.

With the corporate push by ViacomCBS and Fox Corp. into ad-supported VOD — underscored by acquisitions of Pluto TV and Tubi, respectively, new data from Ampere Analysis finds American and European pay-TV operators are using ad-supported VOD (AVOD and BVOD) to deliver original programming to an increasingly digital-centric consumer.

Pluto TV earlier this year added 24 content channels for distribution in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The platform continued its distribution strategy of original content through a deal with Verizon encompassing both mobile and pay-TV.

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Tubi has begun streaming the first two seasons of Fox singing competition show “The Masked Singer” — the No. 1 show on television in its third season. It is the highest-profile program on the AVOD platform, which also added “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.” All episodes of the first two seasons are now available, while current season-three episodes are available on Tubi a week following their broadcast on Fox.

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German service Joyn, a joint venture between ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery in the U.S., has commissioned 20 original productions since launch, with shows such as the upcoming coming-of-age thriller, “Catacombs,” targeting a younger audience. Half of its unscripted originals feature YouTubers or social media influencers, with the service developing three new “reality/documentary” shows during lockdown, according to Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm said 30% of France Télévisions’ upcoming shows are destined for VOD, with high-profile commissions for digital platform France.tv, including “Louis XXVIII,” a sci-fi drama set in an alternate universe in which the French Revolution never happened.

“BVoD platforms were initially designed for TV catch-up viewing, but in recent years broadcasters have been investing in technical enhancements and original content to beef up their services to attract a young demographic,” Léa Cunat, senior analyst at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement.

Cunat said that while uncertainty looms large regarding return to normal for business and advertisers in the coronavirus pandemic, Ampere’s outlook for BVOD revenue growth is positive.

“We anticipate that the shift to digital marketing will be accelerated if the behaviors consumers have adopted during lockdown persist following the reopening of economies,” he said.

Comcast Ups Free Diversity Content as Pandemic Continues

Comcast Cable April 7 announced it is making on-demand programming from more than 12 entertainment networks and subscription video services available for free to its Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers.

Comcast ended the most-recent fiscal period with more than 20 million video subscribers.

“We’re happy to work with our content partners to make a selection available for free,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment at Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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On-demand programming currently available for free includes African American Networks and SVOD services AFRO, Aspire TV, Black News Channel, Brown Sugar, Impact Network, kweliTV, REVOLT, The Africa Channel and TV One.

Latino Networks/OTT services include CBeebies, Cinelatino, Cine Sony, Cinema Dinamita MX, Kanal D Drama, Kids Central en español, Pantaya, RCN Novelas, Universo, ViendoMovies and Vme Kids.

International Networks and Subscription Video Services: Filipino On Demand, GMA Pinoy, Hi-YAH!, KOCOWA (all programs subtitled in English) and TV5MONDE.

Comcast said it offers subs access to 160 independent networks, 100 of which are targeted to diverse audiences. Additionally, its customers have access to 20,000 hours of diverse on demand and online programming accessible across Xfinity video platforms, including in specially curated destinations for Black Film and TV, Latino, Asian American Film and TV and International.

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The programming partners join a broad range of other premium networks and subscription video services making on demand programming available free for Xfinity TV and Internet customers.

Beyond free content, Comcast has undertaken a comprehensive COVID-19 response inclusive of opening Xfinity WiFi hotspots located in business and outdoor locations across the country to anyone who needs them for free (including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers), pausing data plans, creating a COVID-19 news destination and a K-12 education destination on X1 and Flex, and making its “Internet Essentials” program free for new families for the first 60 days of enrollment.