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2020: The Present On Demand

"Those who have knowledge don't predict. Those who predict don't have knowledge." -Lao Tzu



I was reminded of this quote last week when Evan Shapiro (President, National Lampoon) re-shared his “2021 Media Universe” graphic via LinkedIn and it once again popped up in my feed. This time around, I stopped to pay further attention to it, instead of the quick glimpse I’d given it back in summer, which now feels like at least a year ago.


As Evan insinuates with the quote, while this visual that he created is great for getting a feel for the current landscape, if you’ve been paying attention to the entertainment/media industry as a whole even just in the past year or if you work in this industry, you already knew much of this. You don’t need data analytics, audience assessments, or scientific findings to have the ability to forecast which entities would emerge at an advantage in 2021. Deadline’s article from late summer dove further into these predictions.

In fact, if you were to have paid attention to your own consumption habits over the past few years you also likely would’ve predicted the shifts that would happen in a little under three years.

In fact, this is what the landscape looked like in 2018.




As 2020 comes to a close, I thought about what type of post I could leave you all with that would be of benefit to you in 2021. I settled on diving into on demand content a little. I could turn this into a longer post. I could dive into SVOD OTT, CTV. In reality though, in order to understand those areas all you really have to do is pay attention to your own personal consumption habits, as I mentioned earlier.


So with that said, what services are you subscribed to? What platforms do you use to :

  • watch films/tv shows

  • listen to music

  • shop for goods

  • look up info that you need

  • navigate while driving

  • learn new things

  • fact check

Odds are, that most, if not all, of your answers are on these visuals (or are owned by these corporations). I know most of mine are.

Now go one step further and think about

  • In Flight - the last flight you took, who provided the wi-fi, the inflight entertainment? .

  • In Vehicle - your car’s navigation system (most vehicles now have integrations with Google Maps), audio options (many cars now come equipped with Apple CarPlay or Samsung’s Android Auto or you can stream Spotify or Apple Music via bluetooth), wifi (if you opt for it) - my last three vehicles have had AT&T WiFi Internet option that I could enable.

  • Home Entertainment - Take a look at your Smart TV if you have one and the Remote Control for it and any other devices like Roku. Do you see shortcuts to specific platforms and providers? Definitely makes life easier to just push a button to get to the content you want right? It also makes it a lot easier for those providers to retain you as a customer.


All of these integrations that surround you on a daily basis allow these corporations to continue to grow exponentially and have led to what we now see on this “media universe” graphic.

Whether you are a content creator or a consumer, It really is to your benefit to understand what OTT, AVOD, SVOD, TVOD, etc. all mean especially after 2020. The pandemic has converted everyone into digital natives and there will only be more and more of these options to come. For example, Discovery Channel is the next in line to release Discovery+ now owning most of OWN’s content.

A colleague working through a tv show distribution deal recently had jokingly asked if I could come to every meeting with them since they knew that I had knowledge in these areas. I laughed and just like I did with them, I’ll instead empower all of you with a brief breakdown. Most of it you likely already know. by now.




Below is a short overview of each: Over-the-top (OTT) refers to material that is distributed directly to viewers over the internet. OTT is a subset of (Video On Demand) VOD, which also includes content delivery through cable and satellite services. For online audiences, it is all fairly seamless and invisible, but beneath the technology there are a number of key business models being employed that monetize this easy access to content. This is nothing new.

It’s a term that’s been around over a decade.

  • Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD): Represents the selling of tiered access to a library of content, typically for a monthly or annual fee. Examples of this are most that you are familiar with like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon’s Prime Video, and all of the + (Disney Plus, Discovery +, CBS All Access soon to be Paramount +), YouTube TV, etc.

  • Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD): Providing free access to a library of content, paid for by advertising that is featured on the platform and/or content. Examples of AVOD include: Hulu basic (w/ads), Pluto TV, Crackle, YouTube

  • Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD): Selling access or ownership of a specific piece of content for a one-off fee. Really, though this is just a new term for Pay-Per-View.

Primary examples of this are Apple iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video’s Buy or Rent on demand content, Masterclass, Udemy, Vimeo, YouTube Buy or Rent content, etc. Most of the films that debuted both on a platform and in the movie theaters at the same time are using the TVOD distribution model. I believe at this time, YouTube is the only platform that falls under SVOD, AVOD, and TVOD.

So as you can see, these industry terms really aren’t as intimidating as their acronyms can make them out to be. I know most of us who are in this industry throw those terms around all of the time without thinking twice about it--mostly because we invented them. It’s much easier to say to someone “are you working on the SVOD product?” in the office than to say “are you working on the Subscription Video on Demand product?” or to refer to the Over-the-Top teams as the “OTT” teams instead. It’s just like how B2B or B2C came about all of those years ago.

Anyhow, reading a couple of articles around these areas should get you pretty caught up on how each of these work. It really all just comes down to content distribution as that’s what all of these are for and monetization (how everyone can get paid for this content) as each of these models were all created to drive additional revenue. If you are a content creator, I would pay close attention to these areas of the entertainment and music industries in 2021 and beyond as these are no longer part of the future of entertainment, they are the present.

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