What is VOD? Video on Demand Explained with Examples

Imagine being able to choose the movie you want to watch, without having to wait to watch it live on TV or any other device or channel.

That's what Video-on-Demand (VOD) is—videos you can watch when you "demand" it. 

Case in point: If you've ever watched videos on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, or any other streaming service, those videos are on demand because you can watch them whenever you want. And you’re not alone; there are over 1.7 billion VOD users worldwide.

In this article, we'll provide every info you need about VOD, including its core benefits, VOD software, use cases/examples, and more!

What is video on demand (VOD)?

Video on demand (VOD) simply means watching videos whenever you want to, without having to wait for them to come on TV. You can watch on-demand videos through your computer, mobile device, smart TV, or any other type of device).

VOD can be live or pre-recorded and is typically offered by:

Brands that want to provide educational content to their audience, without aggressively selling their products or services.

A good example is HubSpot Academy, where the company offers free video lessons on topics its audience is interested in, like inbound marketing, customer service, and sales.

Celebrities or content creators who want to share exclusive content with their fans. For example, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurant website offers a range of cooking videos his audience and followers can watch on-demand.

News organizations that want to offer on-demand access to breaking news stories. CNN, for instance, has a section on its website devoted to video clips from its popular news programs. Those are on-demand videos.


Content providers like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video that offer entire libraries of films and TV shows.

What's a VOD software provider?

A VOD software provider is a company that offers a platform or software for you to host and manage your on-demand video content. They typically store the videos on a remote server and stream them to users over the internet. 

VOD platforms also usually provide a video player you can embed on your website or app so your audience or viewers can watch your videos. Some VOD software providers also offer other features, like live streaming capabilities, monetization tools, and video content protection tools.

Popular VOD software providers include brands like JWP (yep, that's us), Brightcove, and Dacast.

How does VOD software work?

If you're looking to provide videos on demand for your audience, you'll need a reliable video-on-demand (VOD) solution.

And a typical VOD system comes with three major components:

Here's how those three components work together:

When someone wants to watch one of your videos, the media player will send a request to the CDN for the video file.

The CDN will then fetch the video file from its storage and begin streaming it to the viewer. 

If you're live streaming content to your audience, the encoder will send the live video feed to the CDN, which will then distribute it to viewers. And if you're offering both live and on-demand videos, the CDN will switch between the two based on what viewers request. 

If you're offering only on-demand videos, the CDN will simply keep those videos stored until they're requested. 

Finally, you'll need to embed the media player provided by your VOD software onto your website or app so your audience can watch your videos "on demand."

Different VOD solutions will often offer distinct features, but that's the general gist of how it works.

Now, let's dig a little deeper into the core benefits of VOD platforms.

8 core benefits of using VOD

There are many benefits to offering video on demand, both for businesses and customers. Here are some of them:

Get your content out faster

Since you don't have to worry about the quirks and processes of physical media like DVDs, you can get your content up on a VOD service much faster than you could with traditional distribution methods.

Or if you're a TV station or news outlet, you (and your advertising or show partners) won't have to wait for a spot on television or airtime; you can get your content out much faster using VOD.

Allow viewers start videos back where they stopped

With VOD, you can allow your audience to continue your videos from where they last stopped.

For example, if a viewer watches 50% of a video and then exits, the next time they come back to watch that video, it will start from the 50% mark.

This is a great way to keep viewers engaged, as they won’t have to start the video from the beginning every time.

And this is also super helpful if your videos come in episodes; viewers can easily continue watching from the last episode they watched — without having to search for it.

Offer more convenience

With functionalities like pause, rewind, and fast forward, VOD provides a lot of convenience-focused features that help your audience watch content on their own time and at their own pace.

Many (if not most) VOD platforms also provide transcripts and Closed Captions (CC) to help your content become accessible to a wider range of viewers, including those with hearing impairments or who speak a different language.

By making your content accessible and convenient, VOD helps you reach a larger audience and ensures that they stick around until the very end of your videos; the more convenient they are, the less likely they are to click away.

Another major convenience factor VOD offers is users can watch videos on any operating system, whether android, iOS, Windows, or Mac. Or on any device like smartphones, desktops, or tablets.

Generate additional revenue

VOD helps you generate more revenue by giving your viewers the option to purchase or rent your videos. 

For instance, if you have a video that is popular among your viewers, you can charge a rental fee for people who want to watch it.

Or maybe you have a video tutorial on topics that people are willing to pay for. In this case, you can sell your video as a digital product.

VOD also gives you the opportunity to run ads on your videos and generate revenue from ad views. A great example of this is how YouTube runs ads on videos and makes money from them. 

They run pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads on videos on their app and website, and make billions of dollars per year from them. In fact, YouTube made a whopping $28.8 billion from these ads in 2021.

So if you're looking for ways to generate additional revenue from your videos, VOD is a great option. It's a flexible platform that allows you to sell or rent your videos and run ads on them to make more money.

Author’s note: You can use JWP’s video ad revenue calculator to see how much you could make from your videos — especially when you use our video monetization platform. You’ll get a report that looks something like this:

Save on production costs

VOD helps you save costs on production by allowing you to pre-record and store your content, rather than live-streaming it.

This means you can cut down on equipment and personnel costs, as well as reduce the time and effort needed to produce your content.

For instance, if you're recording a live show, you'll be able to avoid the hassle of coordinating a live event, which is often logistically complicated and expensive.

In addition, you can use VOD to target specific audiences with laser precision, which helps you to save on advertising and marketing costs.

Overall, using VOD helps you to save on production costs, and allows you to produce high-quality content without breaking the bank.

Improved audience engagement tracking

VOD helps you better understand how your audience is interacting with your content. Once viewers have consumed your content, you can track their behaviors, preferences, and more with your VOD software.

You’ll see what’s working and what’s not, make changes on the fly, and continually improve the effectiveness of your content strategy.

For instance, you can track:

  • How many people are watching your videos
  • What parts of the videos they're watching (and for how long)
  • When they're watching your videos
  • Where they're watching your videos from

This data is essential in understanding what your audience wants and how to give it to them. Once you have data, you can better cater your content to their needs.

For example, if you see your viewers are only watching the first few minutes of your videos, you know you need to make your content more engaging from the start. Or, if you see people are watching your videos from a particular location more than others, you can target your content to that audience.

In the end, when you offer on-demand videos to your audience, you get access to a wealth of audience engagement data you can use to improve your content strategy and make sure your audience is always happy with what they're watching.

Create interactive content

With VOD, you can also add interactive features to keep them engaged.

For example, you can add a call-to-action at the end of each video, or include a mid-roll interactive ad. You could also add a quiz at the end of each video to test viewers’ knowledge.

However, you only get these interactive features depending on the VOD platform you're using. So, before you create any video content, check if the VOD platform you're using supports interactive features.

For instance, with a VOD platform like JWP, you get interactive features like download buttons, social sharing, and interactive transcripts. Just to explain a bit further, here’s what the interactive transcripts look like:

Viewers can search the transcript and locate any part of the video they’re watching.

And this is just one of the many ways you can keep viewers engaged with your content even after they’re done watching it; there are several opportunities to create interactive content with VOD.

Easier access to a library of videos than traditional methods

With VOD, your viewers can easily access your library of videos. All you'll need to do is upload your videos to the VOD platform and allow users to access them.

Or you can create a page on your website where you embed the video player for each video. Your viewers can then watch all your videos without having to leave your website.

You can also include a search bar on your VOD platform or video library page on the website, so viewers can easily find the video they're looking for.

How to choose a VOD service that's right for you

Here are six guidelines to help you select a VOD provider that can give you the features, support, and price you need.

Define your needs and wants

Before choosing a VOD provider, you need to first define your specific needs and wants.

What are your must-haves and what can you live without? This will help you narrow down your options and make the selection process much easier.

For instance, you may need a VOD software provider that offers live video streaming tools so that you can offer live content to your viewers and also provide them with the option to watch it on-demand later.

In this case, you'll want to rule out any VOD providers that don't offer live streaming capabilities. So when you start your search, be sure to keep your specific needs and wants in mind.

Make a list of top VOD software providers

Once you know what you need, it's time to make a list of potential VOD software providers.

There are a few key factors you'll want to consider when narrowing down your choices:

  • Does the provider offer a free trial?
  • Do their features match your wants/needs?
  • What's their average user rating on review sites?

Make a list of your top 3-5 providers and then proceed to the next step.

Compare pricing relative to features

You also need to compare pricing relative to features. Some companies offer more features than others, so you need to make sure that you're getting enough value for your money.

A good practice would be to compare the features of each company side-by-side so that you can see which ones are worth the price.

For example, if one VOD software provider offers 3 times the amount of bandwidth or storage space for the same price as another provider, then it's probably better to go with the one with the larger storage space.

The key here is to make sure you're not paying for features you don't need, and also to make sure you're getting a real bang for your buck. In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of some of the features you get from our VOD software platform:

Evaluate pros and cons

No VOD software tool is perfect, but you want to make sure the pros of your choice product outweigh the cons.

For instance, some tools might be great for live streaming, but lack in their editing and archiving capabilities. Others might have these features but come at a higher price point.

There are usually various trade-offs to consider, so it's important to make a list of your priorities and evaluate each tool against them. And in the end, pick the tool that’s best for YOUR specific needs.

Check if there's a free trial

This one's super important; you want to make sure you're 100% comfortable with the software before you commit to anything.

And one of the best ways to do that is to try it out for yourself.

Case in point: At JWP, we offer a free, 30-day trial of our VOD software so that you can explore all the features and get a feel for how it works before you decide if it's the right fit for you.

But no matter what VOD platform you're considering, be sure to see if they offer a free trial and decide whether or not it's worth your time to explore further.

Check out customer reviews

Checking customer reviews is arguably the best way to get an idea of what you can expect from a company and their software.

For example, if you read a bunch of negative reviews about a particular VOD platform that all say the same thing, it's probably a good idea to stay away. And on the other hand, if it's mostly positive reviews, you're likely onto something good.

Case in point: At JWP, we're proud of the customer reviews we've received over the years. Take a peek at some of our customer stories here.

Now, let's look at some of the most popular use cases of on-demand videos.

Common VOD use cases (or examples of VOD in action)

Here are seven examples of how you can use VOD depending on your business model:

Video tours

You can use on-demand videos to give potential customers a guided tour of your products or services.

They'll see what your offerings are and how they work, without having to come into your store or office. This is especially useful for businesses with complex or physical products or services or businesses that sell hospitality services, like hotels, resorts, and tour operators.

A real-life example of this is the 360-degree video tour of Qsuite, a premium first-class cabin on Qatar Airways.

The two-minute video showcases the luxurious features and amenities of the suite, from the private space to the fully flat bed, and is an excellent way to pique the interest of potential customers.

Customer testimonials and case studies

You can use VOD to showcase customer testimonials in a way that is both personal and engaging.

Potential customers can go to your website, app, or any other streaming platform you're using to host videos and see/hear real people sharing their experiences with your product or service — which helps them build trust and confidence in your brand.

Case in point: A/B testing software company Optimizely uses VOD to show how their product has helped companies like Salesforce and many others.

 

This way, their target audiences and potential customers can get a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the world’s biggest brands use Optimizely to drive results.

How-to videos

VOD is also an excellent format for how-to content.

If you want to show your audience step-by-step how to do things like cooking, makeup, or car maintenance, how-to videos are a perfect format.

A good example of this in action is The Home Depot’s series of do-it-yourself (DIY) videos. These videos cover a wide range of topics, from painting walls to fixing a leaky sink.

One critical benefit of how-to videos is that they keep viewers on your website or app longer, mostly because they're really trying to learn how to achieve a goal and your video becomes the vehicle to help them accomplish it.

And that long time they're spending on your video is obviously good for business — the more time spent, the better the chance for conversions. So on-demand content or videos are a goldmine.

Q&A videos

Another type of content that works well on demand is Q&A videos, where you answer questions your audience is asking and provide valuable information in that process.

When you make these videos available on your site or app, your viewers can watch them at their convenience, and you can be sure they're getting the information they're looking for.

This type of content is a perfect way to build rapport with your viewers while providing valuable content for them.

A good example of this is the Q & A series by The Canadian Urological Association (CUA) on Bone Health Management, where they discuss common challenges and questions that practitioners have related to bone health management.

By providing informative and relatable content, the CUA is able to foster trust and credibility with its audience, helping them become a go-to source for information on the topic.

Live event replays

Another type of video content that's often very successful when made available on demand is live event coverage.

Not everyone can make it to live events, so providing on-demand coverage is a great way to ensure that your audience doesn’t miss out even if they can’t be there in person.

Live event replays give you the chance to edit the footage down to the most engaging parts, cutting out any bloopers, lulls, or dead time. And this not only results in a better experience for your viewers but also allows you to get more mileage out of your event coverage.

A great example of live events being successfully delivered on demand is the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) League Pass.

This service gives users the ability to watch the playback of NBA games if they miss them when they originally aired or if they just want to catch up on the highlights.

This type of content is also a great way to build anticipation for future live events. By providing on-demand coverage of past events, you can get your audience excited about future events, which can help drive ticket sales.

Behind-the-scenes

People love getting a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of their favorite businesses. So if you make those videos available on-demand, you’ll likely have diehard fans that will appreciate it.

Example: Red Bull is known for its action-packed videos featuring extreme sports. But the company also offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of its most popular events, like the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

These videos give fans a taste of what goes into putting on a world-class event, and they love it.  As a result, Red Bull is giving its audience exactly what they want — and reaping the rewards.

Employee onboarding and training.

You can use on-demand videos to onboard new employees or train existing ones on company policies and procedures.

For example, you can use an on-demand video to provide a comprehensive overview of your company's product offerings. Or you can use it to train employees on specific topics, such as customer service or safety procedures.

You'll simply need to upload training videos to a secure, password-protected VOD platform, and then provide employees with access as needed.

This can also be a great way to ensure that everyone is getting the same high-quality training, and it's usually a more cost-effective solution than sending employees to off-site training courses.

Frequently asked questions on VOD

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about our VOD service. If you have more questions, please contact us.

What's OTT? And how's it related to VOD?

OTT stands for "over the top," and it refers to the delivery of content like video services over the Internet, without the need for a traditional cable or satellite TV subscription.

And it represents how a majority of people are consuming entertainment these days, whether it's watching shows on Netflix, Hulu, Roku, Twitch, or any other streaming service. 

VOD (video on demand) is simply a type of OTT content that refers to online video viewers can watch on demand and whenever they want. These could be movies, television shows, or other videos.

Is VOD the same as live streaming?

No, VOD is not the same as live streaming. With live streaming, you're watching content as it's happening in real time. But with VOD streaming, your audience can watch your content whenever they want, without having to wait for it to air live.

Are VOD businesses profitable?

Yes, many VOD businesses are highly profitable. In fact, the global video-on-demand market is expected to reach $257.59 billion by 2029; that's up from $82.77 billion in 2022.

So if you're thinking about starting a VOD business, there's a good chance it could be very profitable for you.

How do you create a VOD platform like Netflix?

If you want to create a VOD platform like Netflix, there are a few things you'll need:

- First, create the brand; this includes coming up with a unique name, logo, and identity.

- Next, create a catalog of killer content that people will want to watch. This could be original programming, movies, TV shows, or anything else that people will find entertaining.

- Then, set up the technology platform that will power your streaming service. And this is where your VOD software provider comes in; they'll help you get set up with the right tools and technologies. With the right platform in place, you'll be able to deliver your content to viewers with no issues. (Author's note: Check out the JWP VOD platform here).

- Finally, market your VOD platform to the masses and get people to watch your content. This is where things like SEO, social media, and paid advertising come into play.

With all that in place, you'll be well on your way to creating a VOD platform that's successful and profitable.

What are some of the most popular VOD software platforms?

There are many VOD software platforms out there, but some of the most popular ones include JWP, Vimeo, DaCast, Wistia, and Brightcove.

What's the best way to monetize a VOD platform?

There are a few different ways you can monetize a VOD platform.

One way is to charge viewers a monthly subscription fee like Netflix does. This is called SVOD — and it stands for "subscription video on demand." With SVOD, viewers have to pay a monthly subscription fee to watch videos. It's a great option if you have a lot of high-quality content that people will want to watch.

Another way is to sell advertising space on your platform like YouTube does. And it's called, AVOD — "ad-supported video on demand" or “advertising video on demand.” Viewers can watch videos for free, but they'll have to sit through a few ads. AVOD is a great option if you have a lot of traffic and you want to monetize it.

Finally, you could also offer a pay-per-view option like Amazon does; this one's called TVOD — "transactional video on demand." With TVOD, viewers can pay to watch individual videos or movies. And it's a great option if you have some really popular content that people are willing to pay for.

No matter which option you choose, there's a good chance you can monetize your VOD platform and make it profitable.

So there you have it!

We've covered just about everything you need to know about on-demand videos, from what they are, their core benefits, and use cases, to how you can make money from them if you’re looking to start a business in that area.

We hope this guide has been helpful in getting you started on your VOD journey.

If you're looking for a great VOD platform to power your streaming service, be sure to check out JWP. We offer a powerful and easy-to-use platform that's perfect for anyone looking to use video for their business or project. Click here to learn more about JWP or just sign up for a free trial today!