How much live TV do you watch? For many broadband subscribers, the answer is increasingly “not a lot” or “not as much as I used to.” According to a February 2015 report from Hub Entertainment Research, time-shifted viewing has already overtaken live content among the general population (at 53 percent to 47 percent, respectively) and is especially popular among millennials.

What does this change in habits mean for cable operators? More than anything, it makes the case for having strong video-on-demand and network DVR platforms to supplement their traditional linear TV packages. Here are four specific reasons for cablecos to provide VOD services to their customers:

1) Most time-shifted viewing already happens on set-top boxes

That Hub Entertainment Research report revealed that VOD solutions for pay TV providers (19 percent) combined with DVRs (34 percent) accounted for more than half of all time-shifted content consumption. As we can see, the STB is still prime real estate for viewers and cable providers alike, so why not modernize it with more VOD services?

“VOD is an obvious candidate for IP distribution.”

VOD is also one of the most obvious candidates for IP distribution. Adding it to your cable company’s STB is an important step in moving from legacy transport to IP-centric architectures that are more flexible, scalable and cost-effective.

2) Incorporating VOD helps support hybrid set-top box strategies

More specifically, hybrid STBs may feature a tuner for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation transmission, in addition to Wi-Fi stacks and Ethernet ports for delivering IP content. On the IP side, having an integrated VOD solution is essential.

With VOD in place, cablecos can offer the widest possible range of viewing options to their subscribers. VOD provides access to numerous TV shows as well as the latest movies, filling the crucial gap between linear TV and over-the-top services that often lack popular content.

3) VOD content can be consumed on many different devices

VOD allows providers to better serve users on devices like tablets.

VOD allows providers to better serve users on devices like tablets.

While it’s a powerful addition to any STB, VOD also shines on other platforms, including tablets, phones and streaming TV boxes. Thanks to IP distribution and authentication, VOD solutions can be accessed for convenient viewing from virtually anywhere.

Looking to catch up on your favorite show or find a certain movie? Some cable providers already offer the ability to comb through their vast catalogs via platform-specific apps that are supported by high-speed Internet connections.

4) VOD platforms can raise the bar for end-user experience

Cable operators have been adjusting for years to the rise of OTT viewing. Services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus are easy to use as long as an Internet connection is available. Many broadband users have gravitated to these platforms, leaving live TV behind.

VOD is ideally a way for cablecos to offer a competitive service for the age of time-shifted viewing. The user interface and experience can far exceed what subscribers have gotten used to from their legacy STBs, in turn increasing their retention rates and reducing churn.

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