Video On Demand is Amazingly Cool

As part of our cable internet package we got a reduced-price trial of the HBO, Showtime, STARZ and Cinemax movie packages.

With the holiday this weekend, we had a family movie festival, and it was SO neat to pick the movies we wanted, when we wanted them, instead of the old days when you had to have a program guide. Being able to hit the pause button, or to rewind to catch missed dialogue, or coming back to catch the end of a movie after leaving for a graduation open house, was fantastic.

Of course, I remember the old days, when if you missed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you had to wait until the next year to see it again.

My wife’s grandfather was born in 1898 and died in the 1990s, and we always used to marvel at how things had changed during his lifetime, from the Wright Brothers’ first flight to space travel.

But think about it: I bought my first Apple IIe in 1984, with 64K of memory. My brother-in-law bought a 5 megabyte hard drive for $1,800. I bought a flash drive/key chain with 200 times as much storage at one of those day-after-Thanksgiving sales last year for $10.

I bought a monster boom box in 1980 for $270. That’s $713 in today’s dollars. It could hold one cassette at a time. Today my $300 iPod can hold 15,000 songs. And instead of having to go to the library to look for the information to compose this paragraph, I can get it by Googling the phrases “60 gigabyte ipod how many songs” and “consumer price index 1980.”

And even if I can’t buy the Rudolph movie on iTunes (yet), I can hear Burl Ives crooning the theme song for 99 cents in just a few seconds. And I can go to YouTube and find parody videos like this one:


When I was growing up Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock had personal communicators, and George Jetson had a picture phone. Now (almost) all of my kids have cell phones with cameras and video capability. We have web chat. My Dad has a camera built into his laptop for video chat.

And of course, through services like, we can publish our observations to the world (in color) for free. No printing cost. No distribution cost. And we can include video.

We talk a lot today about “Death by Powerpoint.” But I remember overhead transparencies. And 35mm slide carousels. And filmstrips.

Grandpa George saw lots of things change in his lifetime. The last couple of decades have brought changes at an even more breathtaking pace, and rate of change is accelarating.

Ultimately, it goes way beyond the fact that we can watch Raising Arizona, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Mission Impossible III on our timetable. With YouTube and other web video sites, and iTunes, and TiVo, the number of “channels” available to anyone with broadband internet (and that’s more than half of the population) approaches infinity.

The implications for people in public relations or corporate communications are immense. We need to make our message something people want to see and hear instead of interrupting with ads. And more importantly, we need to remember that it’s a conversation, and hear what our customers are saying.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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