Jul 6, 2015

The Search For Orphan Black: Why MVPD VOD Gets No Respect

Originally published at TV[R]EV on July 6, 2015

This weekend, I set out to binge watch Orphan Black. While I get BBC-America through my pay-TV service, I’d only recorded six of the ten episodes and so needed to go to my MVPDs VOD to watch it.

Thus began my tale of woe and dreadful customer experience.

Clicking on the “ON DEMAND” button takes me to the “Movies” tab of the first level menu, which is so long I need to scroll to see the whole thing. My options are (in order)

mvod vod
  • Search
  • Free & Premium
  • TV Shows
  • Kids Zone
  • Movies
  • Movie Bundles
  • TV Series to Own
  • My Library
  • Zona Latina
  • Events
  • Adult
Deciding that my best bet for finding Orphan Black was to go to “TV Shows,” I scrolled there, where I encountered a lengthy submenu:
  • Most Popular
  • By Network
  • By Genre
  • Full Seasons to Own
  • Hit Series to Own
  • Full Season Sale
  • Buy to Own
(Think they’re pushing ownership?) From there, I went to “By Network” since I really wasn’t sure what genre Orphan Black fell into.

There are a lot of networks. This submenu was broken up into:
  • A – C
  • D – G
  • H – M
  • N – R
  • S – T
  • U – Z
Finding and clicking on “BBC-America,” the 14th listing on the A-C submenu, I am again confronted by a series of choices:
  • BBC America HD
  • Doctor Who
  • Graham Norton Show
  • Jonathan Strange
  • Orphan Black
  • Tatau
But my journey was far from over.
Choosing “Orphan Black” gave me yet another submenu, with all the episodes from Seasons 2 and 3 listed as:
orphan black
  • Orphan Blk 201
  • Orphan Blk 202
  • Orphan Blk 203, etc.
It’s a confusing nomenclature, one I’m guessing is lost on a lot of viewers.
Finally locating “Orphan Blk 301,” the first show of the third season, I click and am confronted with what is hopefully the final submenu:
  • Add Bookmark
  • Other Episodes
  • Watch Now in HD
  • Watch Now in SD (the default)
  • Rate this show
Clicking on “Watch Now in HD” actually finally launches the show.

But say I’d accidentally clicked on the wrong episode and wanted to choose “Other Episodes”  from that final submenu. Rather than take me back to the previous menu, I am taken to the “Buy To Own” sub-menu where I can buy the season for $17.99 or individual episodes for $1.99. Since the episodes are included for free with my pay-TV subscription, I’m not sure why I’d want to buy them, but getting back to the previous screen (the one with the free episodes) takes a whopping 35 clicks.
One final issue: should I need to exit out of the show for any reason, I’m brought back to the live TV screen, not even the On Demand menu and have to start all over again.

With a user experience like this, it’s no wonders viewers prefer streaming services like Netflix or their own DVRs. If the MVPDs expect to make VOD a profit center and if they expect the networks to regard them as viable alternatives to their own OTT apps, then they’ve got to step their acts up and solve the user experience dilemma.

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