Canadian viewers still unsure about VOD

Canadian VOD market was launched a decade ago

TORONTO -- Canadian TV viewers may have heard about video-on-demand services, but remain confused about their benefits, local cable operators reported Wednesday.

The Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing, which promotes local cable operators and their offerings, said it found 81% of Canadians polled were aware of VOD.

But only half of the respondents recognized the benefits of VOD, including watching TV series on your own schedule, and under half of Canadians surveyed knew they require a digital cable service to access domestic VOD services.

"Despite program providers and cable operators investing millions of dollars in creating and distributing VOD programs, many people do not understand nor do they enjoy the benefits available to them through the VOD platform," John Piercy, president of CTAM Canada, said.

The Canadian VOD market was launched a decade ago with mostly on-demand movies to reel in Canadians with catch-up viewing and reduce cable subscriber churn. 

But it's been hit TV series made available on-demand that's driving the growth of VOD here.

Canadian broadcasters and cable operators continue to grow new revenue streams by making episodes of their most popular Canadian and U.S. TV series  available on ad-supported platforms.

The need for more education of Canadian about VOD is worrying to cable operators threatened with disintermediation in an increasingly digital age, and to whom on-demand TV is an important line of defense.

Toronto-based consultancy Solutions Research Group in its own survey reported half of all Canadian digital cable subscribers used VOD at some time in the second quarter of 2009, or around 2.2 million homes.