Video Streaming: On Demand

Feature by Alex Cole | 30 Apr 2012
  • On Demand

I’ve had a bit of time to give all the new fancy-pants video on demand services a go lately, and to be perfectly frank, the UK has something of a raw deal all round. This may seem like the old whinging about ‘200 channels and there’s nothing on,’ but the thing is, that’s exactly what you get when the vast majority of the catalogue is filler stuff.

Netflix is probably the worst offender here, simply because a quick trip across the pond (or through a US VPN connection) will show you that the difference in the library size is ridiculous. All the old shows you’d want to watch in a marathon, not just the first runs but the old classics, a good portion of it brilliant, but back on this side, your access dwindles to a few seasons of some second-rate shows. There’s some old back-catalogue stuff from the networks, sure, but after the free trial is over, you’ve probably watched everything worth watching.

LOVEFILM is little better, with a few better movie options, but a terrible searching interface and an incomprehensible split between what’s available on DVD, and what’s on Instant streaming. The mailed DVD selection is better, with first-runs that almost make it worthwhile, but to be honest, in the YouTube culture of today, there’s absolutely no reason to wait for a movie to come in the post. I wants what I wants, and I want it now.

All this is compounded by the fact that they are all clunky as hell to use, even on a tablet or mobile. The grouping is all wrong, the suggestions make no sense, and they simply take all the ease out of simply turning on the telly and watching a channel for a while.

What these services miss is that, when it comes to video on demand, channels are the new apps. Give us branded channels that can lay out an offering of shows, in neat little folders to sort through, and let every channel brand the hell out of each one. If a premium channel wants to charge a little more for their shows, let ‘em. It’s still a hell of a lot better than buying a set top box and 50 channels you don’t need. But most of all, put it all in one damn place, let me watch it when and where I like, and then I’ll make the popcorn.