The days of “free” video-on-demand (VOD) content are numbered and services will have to be paid for through advertising or subcriptions, according to Tiscali TV director Simon Hunt.
He adds that Tiscali will test advertising on its services in an attempt to create new revenue streams out of interactive and digital media.
Hunt says: “The days when on-demand [content] was offered without commercials is coming to an end. VOD advertising is definitely in our plans. I would be disappointed if you didn’t see commercials on some of our content in the very near future.”
Tiscali bought the Homechoice television over broadband (or IPTV) service last year and is piloting a Tiscali TV service, which it plans to roll out this year. It offers a number of on-demand channels to its subscribers: some featuring hit shows and others showing specially-created content across health, fitness and lifestyle.
The new BT Vision service and cable company NTL, which is being rebranded as Virgin Media next month, also offer on-demand programming, with BSkyB this month announcing plans to expand its services through the Sky Plus box. An estimated 3 million homes have access to television on-demand content at present.
Broadcasters, including Channel 4, Sky and Five, have launched on-demand PC services on their websites. They charge viewers for downloading programmes. In contrast, ITV is launching an ad-funded service in March.
Television on-demand services are overseen by the self-regulatory body Association for TV On-Demand (ATVOD) rather than media watchdog Ofcom, with members adhering to a voluntary code of practice.