I like music videos. I like movies. I like getting to choose when I watch them. So video-on-demand is a natural for me. I have Time Warner’s digital cable, and I have to say its a major boost to my quality-of-life index.
I came home late last night after a party and wanted to watch some TV before bed. For some reason, I surfed over to a channel I had never seen before, AOL’s “Music-on-Demand.” One of my favorite rappers, Missy Elliot, was a featured artist with a dozen or so of her videos available for instant viewing. Needless to say, I ended up staying up much much later than I intended.
I am frankly shocked that AOL and Time Warner had gotten something right for a change.
As a kid growing up during the beginning years of music videos, I have long been frustrated with having to watch sometimes hours of TV just to get to watch that one video I really wanted to see. And then when I finally got to see it, I usually wanted to see it again immediately.
Renting the music video in a bricks-and-mortar store didn’t make any sense, since the videos are just four minutes long.
Watching it on your computer is mostly an exercise in frustration, given current bandwidth and video compression limitations.
So combining the “fat pipe” of digital cable and the small file sizes of music videos seems a natural fit.
The interface is pretty well-done. Nothing stunning, but clear navigation — by artist, genre and special features. I was able to cruise through to R&B, hip hop and alternative music selections from my remote control. Downloads took a few seconds, playback was crisp, audio was booming out of my speakers.
Did I mention its a free service for Time Warner cable customers? Apparently is also one of the most popular “on demand” services.
iTunes has also just started selling music videos as part of their service, timed to coincide with the release of the new video iPod. At $2 a video, that’s not too shabby. Apparently the video quality is pretty good, even on a 20-inch monitor. And carrying it around in your pocket is a fun idea. Still its hard to beat free.
“Movies on demand” is another nice Time Warner cable feature, priced at $4 a pop, which is just perfect for the average couch potato. Sure, you don’t get all the nice features of a DVD, the commentaries, the “making of” documentary, etc. But then again its $4 and its right there whenever you want it.
The release dates of movies for video on demand seems to lag a couple of months behind the DVD release, which is annoying. Presumably the movie companies want a shot at making profit from the higher priced DVDs before anyone can watch it on their cable box.
The cable company Comcast is proposing to movie companies to shorten that lag time, by combining video on demand and DVD sales into one transaction of $17. So cable customers would have the convenience of being able to watch a movie as soon as it was released to video from their own cable service, while also getting the physical DVD sent to them in the mail once its available. Sounds like a potentially successful strategy, filling the gap between those who want to see the movie as soon as possible at home and those who want the extra features available on DVD.
It’s a wonderful world we live in. I just need to remember to get out of the house once in awhile.