Traditional television has been around since 1927, but did you know this widely popular medium still evolves to offer services like video on demand?

VOD meaning a revolutionary content distribution system allows its users to watch selected videos, movies, programs, or live broadcasts at times other than the broadcasting schedule.

Previously, this option was available only by recording chosen media on systems like VHS. Today, thanks to audio-visual digitization and the Internet, we can access our preferred content on a TV, personal computer, or other device.

To learn more about video-on-demand, continue reading this comprehensive guide!

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Types of Video-on-Demand

1. Transactional Video-on-Demand (TVOD)

This distribution method involves a one-time payment for a single piece of content, for example, one movie.

Depending on the customer’s needs, they can rent a piece of media for a limited time (DTR) or buy it permanently (EST). Both options differ slightly in price – which depends on the content provider.

The service is typically available on platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video – but it is also accessible through rental systems.

2. Subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD)

This increasingly popular model uses streaming technology to deliver a content library for a monthly subscription fee. The best platforms of this type are Netflix, Hulu, Disney , Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, HBO, and more.

Most offer a dedicated application, although subscription users can also watch their favorite movies or TV shows via a web browser. Subscription Video-on-Demand is also available via smart TV, smartphone, tablet, or game console if they use an Internet connection.

The great advantage of this model is access to many titles for one fee and the ability to unsubscribe from the service at any time.

3. Ad-Supported Video-on-Demand (AVOD)

This method lets you watch shows for free in exchange for displaying ads that interrupt the viewing experience. It is one of the most popular methods of accessing desired content, as it does not entail any official or extra fees.

The most successful Ad-Supported Video-on-Demand platform is YouTube, followed by Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and Hulu.

4. Premium Video-on-Demand (PVOD)

This version grants access to new video content earlier than other alternatives. That means viewers can watch movie premieres currently released in cinemas or exclusively on a selected platform – which involves a higher price than usual.

The pandemic has significantly contributed to this model’s increase in popularity due to the worldwide cinema closure. At that time, some movies appeared on Premium Video-on-Demand on the official release date, and others emerged after a certain number of days.

Today, everyone can access Premium Video-on-Demand on the most popular platforms, including Netflix, HBO Max, Disney , Hulu, and Apple TV .

History and Evolution of Video-on-Demand

The history of Video-on-Demand dates back to the 1990s when the development of compression technologies like ADSL or DCT gave rise to the first ideas on how such a service could work.

Interestingly enough, the first experiments began almost simultaneously in the USA and the UK – but Cambridge Digital Interactive Television successfully implemented the plan to provide Video-on-Demand in 1994.

The first tests ran at a speed of 2 Mb/s and eventually increased. Ultimately, the project ended due to problems with clearing content.

From that moment on, the golden age of Video-on-Demand began. 1997 saw the launch of the first-ever video-sharing platform. Cable television began providing Video-on-Demand on a large scale thanks to higher bandwidth, and in 2005 YouTube came to life.

The first video uploaded on this legendary platform was “Me at the Zoo” displaying a young man commenting on elephants in the enclosure. That was when the real industry giants decided to enter the stage.

2005 and 2007 saw the official launch of Amazon Prime and Netflix – today’s must-haves for convenient viewing. As you probably already guessed by exploring the paragraph about types, Video-on-Demand technology has blossomed ever since.

Technology Behind Video-on-Demand

Technology allows users to watch their favorite TV shows and movies as they please. Viewers do not have to follow a broadcast plan because all videos come from the selected provider’s server.

To access the content, the user picks the service offering the best library, broadcasting model, and payments via TV, smartphone, PC, or tablet. In the case of streaming, video content reaches the recipient in real time unless they download the material to the device (which is possible with most providers).

Unlike the popular Internet TV, Video-on-Demand allows you to select content from the library instead of being limited to a scheduled broadcast.

Advantages of Video-on-Demand

  • Accessibility – As you already know, Video-on-Demand users can watch their favorite movies and shows as they wish. There is no need to plan trips to the cinema, follow TV schedules, or record content using outdated methods.
  • Massive content selection – Libraries offer everything you can dream of, from cinema classics to the funniest TV series and educational programs. Moreover, all this media is available across many languages, and updates with new seasons or episodes do not require waiting for TV premieres.
  • Playable on multiple devices – Since taking your entire TV everywhere with you could be a hassle, Video-on-Demand is available on many devices, including tablets, smartphones, and laptops. But you can enjoy it on your TV as well!
  • High quality – Video-on-Demand offers unrivaled sound and image standards depending on your device and Internet connection, even in 4K or HD.
  • Personalization options – Everyone has preferences and streaming platforms know it well, matching new recommendations to the already displayed content. This way, everyone can discover more about what interests them most, from horror movies to documentaries. There are also accessibility features like subtitles and audio-described content.
  • No annoying ads – Unless the user opts for the earlier mentioned ad-supported type, most platforms offer a completely ad-free experience. A nice change from what we know from traditional television!
  • User-friendly interface – Most platforms are as easy to use as possible. Movies are displayed in clear categories with big letters, which makes searching incredibly easy for people of all ages. Also, viewers can freely pause, fast forward, or rewind videos to avoid missing important moments.
  • Content consistency – Traditional television usually broadcasts one or several episodes only to start switching to something completely different after the commercials. In the meantime, the user usually forgets what happened in the last episode or does not have time to watch it according to the TV schedule. With Video-on-Demand, anyone can watch the entire series as a marathon and access it later.
  • Profitable fees – Regardless of the model, these fees can be worth enjoying your favorite content. Most individually purchased videos or subscriptions turn out cheaper than traditional television – and in return, you get everything mentioned above.
  • Parental controls and user profiles – If many users of different ages use one platform offering separate profiles, everyone can adjust the viewing experience to their preferences. Especially when it comes to kids and protecting them from inappropriate content with user-friendly parental controls.


Video-on-demand services revolutionized the movie and television industry, as users can watch their favorite video content wherever and whenever they want.

That has also made traditional TV compete with streaming services, offering a much more diverse, personalized, and accessible viewing experience. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preferences, but revealing the winner may take less time than we all think.

Trends and forecasts predict a significant increase in interest in Video-on-Demand by 2027. Giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu will lead the way by evolving a diverse landscape of entertainment opportunities that will appeal to increasingly more audiences.

Everything indicates that Video-on-Demand viewing recommendations will be even more personalized, platforms will continue to invest in original productions, and technological development will make watching high-quality content with a limited Internet connection possible. Within a few years, the moment may come when we all decide to cut the cord.