Is The VOD Industy Lying To Us Or To Themselves

By Nigel Walley

Martin Johnson, the England rugby coach stood in front of the cameras after the England Scotland game at the weekend and said that he saw improvement in the England team.  Like most of the English sporting audience, who had just watched a dire display of turgid rugby, I gulped in shock  and stared at the screen feeling very uncomfortable.

My discomfort came from the fact that Martin Johnson should be able to do no wrong in my eyes.  He is someone I revere, and for whom I desire success in a very difficult job.  But he was talking rubbish.  What I couldn’t work out was whether he knew he was but was fronting up, or whether he actually believed the stuff he was saying.  It is discomforting when people I like, and want to succeed, spout stuff that is not believable. Particularly if I am not sure that they believe it either.  I am beginning to feel this way about a whole host of new media initiatives that are currently underway.

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TV iPlayer Looks Like A Duck But Quacks Like A Cuckoo

Nigel Walley – March 2009

There is a rule in life that if something walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be a duck.  It is a good rule, but we have been struggling this week with a slight variation to it.  How about if someone really big and important repeatedly tells you something is a duck, and has gone to the trouble of painting the thing to look like a duck, but every time you look at it,  it still doesn’t walk or talk like a duck?

The duck in question is the TV version of iPlayer that is available on Virgin cable.  The BBC and Virgin have made a great fuss over the fact that iPlayer is now available on Virgin’.  But however much we have tried, we can’t make it quack or waddle.

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Was the Kangaroo A Red Herring?

Nigel Walley – Feb 2009 –

There is currently a huge fuss over the regulatory demise of Kangaroo (the online TV joint venture betbetween channel 4, ITV and BBC Worldwide!  But there is a school of thought which says it might have been a complete irrelevance. Two reasons: 80% of VOD use at the moment is catch-up (ie programmes from the last seven days) and, apart from Channel 4, the broadcasters were keeping catch up for their own sites.  This position was further undermined in the last few months by the BBC iPlayer team’s decision to also ‘series stack’ (God this industry is full of jargon!!) .  This means, as an example, if they have a 6 part drama being broadcast, then they will keep all six episodes available in iPlayer catch-up for thirty days after the last episode has been transmitted.  This robbed the concept of some of its most attractive catch-up content.  Without catch up, you are left with lots and lots of archive TV, whose relevance and attractivness has yet to be proven apart from some very niche audiences. (Yes there will always be a tiny number of wombats who want to watch all those old Red Dwarf episodes).

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