Video on demand grew at a rapid pace in 2011 -- the fastest of any alternative TV platform and potentially very lucrative, per Rentrak.
VOD climbed 17% -- 1 billion transactions -- to 8.8 billion in 2011. More than three-quarters of those transactions -- 6.8 billion -- were for free content, so-called free-on-demand. Rentrak, the media researcher, claims "the potential value of the ad inventory in these programs is at least $1 billion."
Rentrak estimates there are an average of five hours and 17 free-on-demand television shows watched per month. Overall, more than 55 million U.S. homes have access to all VOD -- paid and free. The average home spent eight hours per month watching paid and free VOD content. The company says each month, 33.8 million set top-boxes accessed free content.
Looking at total "TV Entertainment" category, Rentrak says -- in terms of "transaction" -- that Free-On-Demand programming is now the top category, up from third place last year.
"We like to think about VOD as the power of 8-plus," stated Cathy Hetzel, corporate president at Rentrak.
She added that "in the eight years since VOD has taken off, homes now watch eight hours of VOD a month and 80% of that is free TV programs, with more than 80% of the free TV program viewing occurring after the first three days of availability on-demand."