Video-on-demand (VOD) is an easy idea. Subscribers get programs when they want, with VCR-like functionality. Of course, it’s a far more tangled engineering reality. But subs don’t care about QAM modulators, video streaming or intelligent asset management. They just want the movie.

In a recent issue of one of our sister publications, an article ran about a staff member who had a frustrating VOD experience. In case you didn’t see that report, I’ll quickly recap it. (For the full saga, see the June 25 issue of CableFAX Daily.)

When the staffer turned to the VOD channel, an onscreen message said to wait for data to download, and an hourglass icon appeared. After about half a minute, and some channel-changing, the hourglass was still squatting over the picture. Several days later, the icon was still there, no matter the channel. The staffer called the cable company, and was put on hold.
And, you know where I’m going here…

Disconnected calls. A CSR promising to “tag the problem.” No word for a week. More calls and voicemails. More waiting. One night, the staffer turned on the TV set and got a blank screen—no audio and no video. The cable company did get back to the staff member eventually, with sincere apologies for what appeared to be problems with the set-top. At press time, a service visit had been scheduled.

Now, I’ve attended more than a few VOD seminars, and talked to dozens of engineers who’ve launched the service. So I’m sympathetic to all the funny things that can happen on the way to delivering VOD.

Your average subs won’t be patient at all. Plain old customer service gaffs will always overshadow their impression of your technology—no matter how new, complex or cool. And as your advanced service offerings grow, that will prove even more the case.

Laura Hamilton

Editorial Director, Broadband
[email protected]

The Daily


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