Cable viewers are watching large amounts of online video, even twice as much as video on demand (VOD), according to a recent survey.

"Video views exploded across the industry," writes Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform and SVP, content publishing, for Comcast Interactive Media (CIM) in an end of year post on his Web site. (For more, click here.)

Blaine is referring to research commissioned by CTAM and conducted by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman; it found cable viewers somehow finding the time to watch 5.9 hours per week of online video compared to 2.9 hours per week of VOD from cable set-top boxes.

According to one piece of the proprietary research that CTAM has made available, that online total includes short-form video (1.4 hours), information (1.8 hours) and full-length video (2.3 hours).
Riding the platform Many MSOs and networks use the services of video publishing company thePlatform to transfer their TV content to the Internet. thePlatform is actually a subsidiary of Comcast.

According to Internet research company comScore, thePlatform’s combined clients had a total of more than 344 million video views in September 2008.

"The audience may still be small compared to linear TV, but it is clearly on the right end of the growth curve," writes Blaine.

While 2008 was the year online video gained greater public awareness, 2009 may be the year content owners use online technologies to increase revenue.

"Everything (cable companies) have been talking about in terms of advanced advertising, we’re already doing in the broadband video space," said Marty Roberts, VP of marketing with thePlatform. "We’re learning in a very low-cost environment, and then part of our job is to bring that back to not only Comcast but other cable companies."

thePlatform has partnered with a comprehensive list of players in online advertising, including 24/7 Real Media, DoubleClick, Tremor Media and Adap.TV. Well recommended Roberts said recommendation engines are becoming a major factor in interactive advertising. On the Web, all video sits in the on-demand state. One way to increase video views is to make recommendations relevant to the consumer. (To read Michael Adams’ November CT column on the subject, click here.) Using content software, the recommendation engine asks consumers who watch a particular video if they’d like to watch a similar program.

"We’re also seeing contextual-driven engines," said Roberts, "which use meta-data to find keywords. They can surface content from the back catalog that wouldn’t necessarily make the front page."

Blaine indicates in his blog that many content owners have begun to release a tight grip on their programming and let it out on a "longer leash," while still retaining control over monetization.

Roberts explained that thePlatform is capitalizing on social networks such as Facebook to increase viewership of videos. Users link to their favorite videos and share the link with friends.

thePlatform is also working with content owners to satisfy consumer demand for an open ecosystem. For example, some people want to watch video on their computers, while others want to watch it on their mobile phones. They don’t want to be locked into a single technology vendor.

"The backend technology changes a little to reach each place," said Roberts.

– Linda Hardesty

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