The way studios sell content to media companies means that your favourite show may not always be available on your platform of choice.
This results in viewers around the world complaining about perceived delays in the airing of TV series, or about the size of the selection on offer through video-on-demand services.
According to Discover Digital – a digital entertainment and VOD services company, and MTN’s partner for its VOD service, VU – judging an on-demand service just on volume and newness of titles is a mistake.
Taryn Uhlmann, executive head of operations and marketing at Discover Digital, said that each one is subject to rights restrictions and forced to wait a certain amount of time before it may release new programming.
As with movies, TV shows are licensed in specific periods called content windows.
“In the case of most big shows, the first rights to screen TV series will be bought by a particular network or media company, who will then often take the life-of-series rights for as long as the show is produced,” said Uhlmann.
Good examples are the Netflix-commissioned original productions House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, distributed by Sony and Lionsgate respectively.
“Both titles’ first run rights were bought by DStv before Netflix started its global roll-out strategy, so even when Netflix came to South Africa, they couldn’t show the current series until the second run window opened – after DStv has screened it.”
For TV show and movies, rights may purchased by a major media company – forcing others to wait months or years before they can screen them.
“But this should not detract from the huge range of benefits VOD services can offer,” said Uhlmann.
When you discover a series for the first time, you no longer have to come in at the end of the season. You can go back to season 1 episode 1 and watch from the start, she said.
“On-demand is still in its early stages, but it is shaping up to be the most exciting development in the entertainment industry in decades. We expect that in years to come, everyone will subscribe to several on-demand services that suit their particular tastes,” said Uhlmann.