Home Marketing Digital Sales Jargon demystified: VOD, WTF?

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Digital sales Jargon by David White, a glossary of digital sales terms for VOD

Welcome to Digital Sales Jargon 101: VOD, WTF?

Right now we are on the cusp of a dramatic shift from physical to digital for film and television content. With the fast-paced changes in this environment, it’s crucial for indie filmmakers to understand exactly what we’re getting into when we give away our rights. Have you ever heard all the terms around VOD and thought ‘WTF’?

As an indie filmmaker, you need to be able to navigate this new space well to ensure your own success. This article aims to provide a basic outline and a glossary of terms so you’re not talking TVOD when you should be talking SVOD.

VOD: Video on Demand

Firstly, ‘VOD’ is an abbreviation for Video on Demand, but this is very broad. Believe it or not, VOD has been around for over 20 years, originally starting out in Hong Kong in the early 1990′s, but back then the service was too costly for many people so it did not take off immediately. Along the way other services popped up, but it wasn’t until the early 2000′s that television providers started thinking outside the (television) box and began to offer their content through streaming or downloading online. Now the times they are a changin’ and we’re seeing many new variables of VOD…

SVOD: Subscriptional Video on Demand

An example of SVOD is Netflix, where users pay a set amount per week, month, or per year, to watch as much content as they like. In the past three years SVOD platforms have grown in popularity. Last quarter, Netflix had a total of 37.6 million people streaming content, that’s about one in every eight people in the US using this service. When they started, catalogues on services such as Netflix and Hulu.com mainly featured older films and television series, but now they’re stepping up the game and even producing original content. When it comes to these services, indie artists need to keep in mind that if you have your film uploaded to the site, your content will need to be seen thousands of times to make a dollar.

TVOD: Transactional Video on Demand

Not to be confused with SVOD, TVOD is where users pay for each individual movie, season, or series. This can be for streaming content online, and is sometimes downloadable, meaning the user then has a license to use or own the content. IndieReign works this way where users can either rent the content for a limited time, or purchase the content to stream online or download.

EVOD: Exclusive Video on Demand

EVOD is when a particular VOD content provider offers something that no other platform has, Netflix has just brought out House of Cards which is a prime example, as the competition intensify’s in the digital space it’s likely EVOD content will increase in popularity. Some might say it is the future of television.

FVOD: Free Video on Demand

FVOD is when a network operator or VOD platform makes free content available, which is usually paid for by advertising. Hulu is predominantly a free video on demand platform that makes money through advertising, but they also offer SVOD plans to minimize this advertising for subscription-paying viewers.

Now that’s all the VOD’s out of the way, here’s a look into some other common terms you might hear in regards to digital sales jargon:

EST: Electronic Sell Through

EST is where users pay a one time fee to download digital media content which can apply to videos, music, gaming, and mobile device apps. EST is also sometimes referred to as DTO, but now Disney is making an attempt at creating a new term for these transactions, EVHL.

DTO: Download to Own

Download to Own works the same way as EST, users pay a one time fee to legally download digital content and gain ownership for personal use.

EVHL: Electronic Video Home License

This is a new term emerging into the digital sales jargon, one that Disney is introducing as an attempt to make it seem more like a license than ownership – I’m not sure how this should be pronounced, but “evil” comes to mind…

PPV: Pay Per View

Pay Per View, literally as simple as it sounds. Pay for what you watch online, when you watch it. Currently IndieReign follows this model, where the filmmakers set a rental and a purchase price, which users only pay if they want to watch or buy the content, with no extra costs, and filmmakers get 70% of the profit instantly in their bank account.


I hope this glossary has made navigating the digital sales space just that much easier for you. If you come across any other tricky terms let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this updated, we’re always here to help.


CEO and Founder of Indiereign.com


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