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Home > Broadband Video on Demand vs. Digital Video Recorders
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Broadband Video on Demand vs. Digital Video Recorders

When digital video recorders (DVRs) first came on the market, U.S. consumers flocked to the new technology. Most abandoned their VCRs and stockpiles of VCR tapes and converted to DVR recordings. DVR recordings took up less space on the bookshelf and had much higher quality video and sound than their predecessors.

Video On Demand Enters the Marketplace

But DVRs soon faced their own competition: Video On Demand (VOD) offerings from the nation's top cable companies. Virtually any digital cable subscriber could access video, film, and television content from the convenience of their home. Just by pressing a few buttons on the cable television remote, they'd could watch their favorite television shows, movies, and a wide variety of other content from sports to fitness, health to home design, real estate to outdoor living.

VOD vs. DVR Viewership

By the end of 2008, 27 million U.S. households used DVRs and 28 million had access to Video On Demand through their cable provider. And while both technologies have seen growth in recent years, a Parks Associates report titled "Digital Media Revolution" states that when it comes to Video On Demand viewing, 37 percent of viewers watched more VOD offerings in 2008 than the year before, with a marked increase in viewing of VOD high-definition, film, and premium channel content.

Conversely, the same Parks Associates report details the DVR viewers actually watched fewer DVR recordings in 2008 and rented or purchased fewer DVR movies or television series.

Convenience and Expansion of Video On Demand

One reason for the increase in VOD viewership has been the commitment on the part of cable companies to greatly expand their VOD offerings, with emphasis on high-definition (HD) content. Today, approximately 50 percent of U.S. households have HDTV in their homes, and the availability of HD VOD content has driven up demand for VOD offerings.

Another aspect of the increase of VOD viewership is the convenience of the technology. Viewers don't have to go to a movie rental store to choose a movie to watch over the weekend and they don't have to add the cost of a subscription to an online movie rental service to their family budget. Rather, they can receive hundreds of free VOD movies, television, sports, fitness, and lifestyle content from their cable provider without ever leaving their homes or signing onto the Internet. And with Pay Per View offerings, they can watch the latest movies and hottest sports events at very reasonable prices right on their television screens.

The Future of Digital Media

Many companies are working on technology which will allow digital cable customers to access and view online videos on their HDTVs through newly designed set-top boxes. Once that technology hits the market, the convenience of VOD plus online video viewing may completely win the day.