The future of Video on Demand? More variety in ads, and having to sit through them no matter what

the future of video on demand more variety in ads and having to sit through them no matter what comcastExpect the way that ads appear in Video On Demand content to evolve dramatically over the next few months. Shifts in technology from “dynamically inserting” ads to ensuring that viewers don’t have the ability to fast-forward through advertisements will change the way that ads and VoD content mix, according to Comcast executives, leading to what they’re calling a “hockey stick jump” in ad revenue from the service.

“We have 400 million monthly VoD views on Comcast. I’d love to have a dollar for every view,” said Comcast Spotlight’s West regional vice president of integrated media sales Chip Meehan during an appearance on a panel at the Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable fourth annual On Demand Summit yesterday. Meehan predicts a “tenfold” uptick in ad impressions on VoD content for Comcast over the next twelve months, adding that the carrier is already working on deals with content providers to increase the amount of free and paid programming Comcast offers on the service (The carrier has already signed a deal with Disney, and is working on additional partnerships already. “Once the first couple of them are figured out you can assume the rest will follow. If Comcast and Disney can figure it out you can assume we’ll figure it out with others,” he reportedly said).

Part of the way VoD is growing is through the ability to switch up which ads are shown to viewers; using “dynamically inserted ads,” VoD users won’t have to see the same one commercial every single time an ad break appears, which – according to Scott Criley, director of new media at Harris’s Broadcast Communications division – changes things greatly. Whereas earlier VoD ad attempts were, in his words, “a painful experience, because you would see the same ad over and over again,” causing viewers to “abandon halfway through,” offering DAI through VoD creates a more familiar, less repetitive experience. “Now the ad mix you see are more like linear TV,” he said.

That’s something that’ll appeal to viewers, advertisers and content providers, but it’s not enough to ensure the uptick in ad revenue for Comcast; that’s why they’ve also disabled the “trick-play” (fast-forward) capability for a lot of their VoD content. Somewhat surprisingly, says Meehan, “we’re not seeing a decrease in views for VOD with trick-play disabled.”

Making VoD ads work financially is a big deal for Comcast, and with good reason. As Meehan explained during the panel, around 80 percent of Comcast’s current 400 million monthly VoD views belong to free content. If even just half of those views come from cable programmers, then that’s still 160 million views each month – managing to monetize ad sales for those types of numbers (especially with the ability to promise that viewers will have to sit through the ads) could be a very welcome additional revenue stream for the company. Or, as Meehan said, citing the 160 million monthly viewer figure, “That times 40 bucks starts to be a pretty big business.”

Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Gaming

The next ‘Overwatch’ patch will bring major changes, require a full reinstall

The next major Overwatch patch will be a remaster patch, and will include load time improvements and memory optimization, among other things. With so many things to be added to the game, a full reinstall will be required.
Mobile

Google confirms it will add Android support for foldable displays

It's already clear a few smartphones of 2019 will be foldable, and Google is embracing the trend. The company announced its adding Android support for foldable devices, which will allow apps to work seamlessly with the new form factor.
Computing

Lost without 'Print Screen'? Here's how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook

Chrome OS has a number of built-in screenshot options, and can also be used with Chrome screenshot extensions for added flexibility. You have a lot of options, but learning how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook is easy.
Smart Home

Hosting Thanksgiving but not sure where to begin? Try a Thanksgiving meal kit

Need a Thanksgiving meal, but short on time or expertise? Here are the best Thanksgiving meal kits to help you out. They either give you all the ingredients and instructions, or provide a full Thanksgiving meal that you just have to heat.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.
Smart Home

This old-school bus is now a solar-powered home on wheels

Michael Fuehrer of Nowhere Navigation decided to gut an old yellow school bus and turned it into a tiny home on wheels, complete with a full kitchen and shower inside and a solar panel on top.
Smart Home

Cloud slime, butter slime, scented slime -- we have your next DIY project covered

We researched dozens of different ingredients and tried several slime recipes. While some recipes are generally pretty safe, others are questionable at best. Which recipes should you use, and which should you avoid?
Product Review

Tovala cooks delicious, idiotproof meals healthier than takeout. For a price

The Tovala Steam Oven is a countertop appliance that can serve up dinner in about 20 minutes with zero prep. The drawback is that the ready-to-heat meals, while tasty, are $12 each.