September 07, 2003

When Will Video-on-Demand Become Mainstream?

Arnold Kling has a corollary to the race between mass storage and bandwidth:

Economics: information technology - Corante: The Bottom Line: I think that the correct answer to the question, "When will video on demand become mainstream?" is "Never."  By the time we have the bandwidth to make it work, we will have hard drives capable of storing all the movies ever made.  Maybe people will download brand new movies--but it also could turn out that they obtain updates to their movie collections via physical media.

Posted by DeLong at September 7, 2003 06:50 PM | TrackBack


On a separate but related topic, How about cable channel on Demand?

Why in the age of digital cable don't the cable companies price each channel separately? It would be great to be able to have the option to buy only the specific channels I wanted. A federal law should be passed requiring every cable company to price each and every channel separately. Having to purhase a package of 20 channles to get one or two desired channels is as annoying as the dinner time telemarketer calls now being restricted by recent laws. Isn't this a political no brainer as well?

Posted by: Dan on September 7, 2003 08:12 PM

I don't necessarily buy that argument. An ntsc DVD's resolution is what? 720x480. And 1080p HDTV is 1920x1080. As hard drives get larger movies probably will too. Especially given that content providers probably consider DVD an unoptimal format (ie living dead) because CSS is cracked.

But then most technology projections >10 years down the road are usually wrong.

Posted by: Shai on September 7, 2003 10:28 PM

I think content providers will favor video on demand because that would be easier for them to control. Also, all other things being equal, it's better to let some sysadmin worry about making backups. Hard drives fail, computers get stolen, etc.

Posted by: rps on September 8, 2003 05:00 AM

rps is correct, even if I have space for all the digital media I could ever want, I'll probably want to download at least some portion of it on demand, for the simple reason that I would rather offload sysop overhead such as backups and archive organization to those who are already paying for it.

I have that inclination even though I've done things like run my own dns, smtp, and web services for many years. Or maybe I have that inclination *because* I have run those services for many years.

Now that I think about it, I use citeseer in exactly that way today. I keep a deadtree cache next to my desk, but never keep an organized digital archive locally. I simply go back to citeseer and retrieve what I want, often multiple times.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on September 8, 2003 08:37 AM

There is so much content that would benefit from video-quality feeds and real time delivery that the presence of all the world's movies on your local drive won't obviate the need for the bandwidth. I'm partial to real time sunrises and sunsets from around the globe, Hawaii in particular, and the news from Adelaide might be just the ticket for tonight's entertainment. With the advent of prosumer HDTV cameras we could all be watching the sun light up the Tetons with some early-rising, intrepid hiker. I'll take the massive drive, but I want the big-gulp bandwidth as well.

Posted by: Dave Roberts on September 9, 2003 10:57 PM
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