The SVOD 'mess'—or, Get ready for SVOD

SVOD is well and truly on its way to Australia. For those not keeping up with the latest abbreviations, SVOD is 'subscription video on demand'. I think 'on demand subscription video' sounds better when you speak it, but that abbreviation would have been ODSV which is not as cool to say as SVOD.

'Subscription video on demand' basically refers to the ability to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to (legally) watch videos (generally TV shows and movies) over the Internet without first downloading them. The video is 'streamed' over the Internet as you watch it. Depending on the particular SVOD service you are signed up with you may also be able to save the streamed video but it will not likely be in an easily shareable format (that you could let your friends watch).

From what I can determine there are five SVOD options currently available in Australia that have only become available this year. They are:

  • .. Stan/StreamCo (see image above).
  • .. Presto/Foxtel (image below).
  • .. Netflix.
  • .. FetchTV.
  • .. QuickFlix

It is not impossible that addition SVOD options may appear during the year. For example, HBO Now if it comes to Australia.

Each of these SVOD offerings use slightly different techniques to provide their streaming video, but generally they will all provide the ability to watch their programmes on a PC, an iOS tablet or smartphone, or an Android tablet or smartphone. Streaming will generally involve the use of an app (application) and a dongle of some kind.

The monthly subscription cost being charged seems to close to $10 per month with small discounts available if you pay annually.

One of the issues with the SVOD model is that each of the streaming services available will provide different selections of TV series and movies; dependent on the deals they have negotiated with the various production houses. Hence, to get the selection of TV and movies you want to watch—when you want to watch them—you may find you have to subscribe to two (or more) services.

Another issue is that SVOD streams the video over your Internet link as data. This requires, obviously, that you have an Internet connection but, in addition, your connection needs to be a suitable speed for streaming video. Also, depending on which streaming service you go with and who your Internet provider is, the streamed video data may add to your download count.

Update >>> 21st March, 9:12 p.m.

One interesting thought in relation to SVOD is how it is going to impact the free-to-air TV broadcasters. The quality and content of free-to-air programming has already decayed over the last 12 to 18 months, and I suspect if SVOD becomes popular then we can expected free-to-air programming to get worse. Basically free-to-air content on the commercial stations now is comprised of reality shows, live sports broadcasts, and selling shows, with a few news and weather slots here and there.