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The History of VOD!

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The days of picking up a scratchy and unwound VHS from the local video store are well, and truly, gone. “Be kind, rewind” is no longer a mantra that the coming generations will have drilled into ‘em, nor will they experience the pleasure of watching a VHS to the point of rendering it damaged and unwatchable. Nowadays – as us old folk say – film, television, and anything else besides is accessible through the ‘net. Video on demand provides the viewer with the digital world at their fingertips through our televisions, our computers, even our videogame consoles; we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the moving image. Now a staple for the television and film industries, multi-platform distribution has enabled all types of genres, and national cinemas, to be easily accessible and shared across the globe.

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Horror was once a rare delicacy. Most of the local video stores would have small sections pertaining to the horror genre, and much of it was the same stuff with similar monsters, killers, and freaks. But now the horror buff is absolutely spoilt for choice. MonsterBox.TV provides the most succulently insane selection of horror and cult cinema from around the globe. With enough bona fide horror to ravage the mind, video on demand never looked so good. No need to find extra space on the DVD shelf (I know I ran out of space a long time ago), it must be said that video on demand is just so damn… easy, and convenient.

Video on demand streams multimedia content to the consumer, allowing us to pause, rewind, and fast-forward through television programs and films. It may also deliver content by downloading it to the user’s hard drive. And if we’re feeling peckish, all we have to do is pause the stream and go to get a delicious snack (did somebody say falafel?!) No wonder the local video stores are doing it tough! We no longer have to leave our houses on a Sunday with giant shades, and a throbbing hangover; we can do all of our purchasing from a semi-comatose state on the couch.

A relatively new phenomenon, the streaming of multimedia was still a developing technology in the ‘90s. Actually, one of the first live streaming videos erupted onto the Internet in 1993; a band called Severe Tire Damage performed a gig online on the 24th of June. The band was at a research centre in California called Xerox PARC. One of the band members – Mark Weiser – was the head research scientist at the company, and suggested that they use his band to test the developing technology (of course he did). And well, it worked! Severe Tire Damage now goes down as the first band to successfully stream a live gig on the Internet. Go team!

A screen shot from Severe Tire Damagefirst internet performance.

A screen shot from Severe Tire Damage first internet performance.

By 1995 an e-zine called The Word Magazine were streaming music soundtracks to their readers. During the same year RealNetworks (the creators of RealPlayer) streamed the first sporting match online, a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners. Microsoft created a media player – dubbed ActiveMovie – that streamed multimedia content for its users.

Apple jumped on the stream train in 1999, introducing QuickTime to the World Wide Web, while ActiveMovie became Windows Media Player. During this time there were three streaming devices running around the ‘net – RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and QuickTime – and most users had them all in case the video they wanted to stream was in the incorrect format. Two years after the Y2K scare, and Abode Flash Player shouldered its way in. It quickly became the one and only choice for streaming, as Flash became the format of choice for many sites that provided multimedia goodies, such as YouTube.

Ahhh yes. YouTube. We have all spent countless hours looking up cat videos, until we eventually stumble across what I dub the ‘dark side’ of the Tube (anybody remember the pus video?) Using Flash, YouTube became the first video-sharing website on the ‘net, and is accessible on multiple devices. The first video featured was entitled “Me at the Zoo.” A co-founder of the site, Jawed Karim, uploaded the video in 2005, with a running time of 20 seconds. YouTube gave users the ability to upload and share their own videos in an easy-to-use arena. Many have risen to Internet fame, and it seems that the trending videos are getting more ridiculous each and every year… much to my delight!

A screen shot from ME AT THE ZOO, the world's first YOUTUBE video.

A screen shot from ME AT THE ZOO, the world’s first YOUTUBE video.

What does this mini-history of multimedia streaming have to do with video on demand? Well, it very clearly paved the way for the way media products are distributed, and consumed, today. Video on demand platforms, such as MonsterBox.TV, are able to provide a much larger range of films and television shows at minimal cost to the viewer. And again, it is just so easy. No need to find the space for a growing VHS/DVD collection, and we can access anything, anytime! All you gotta have is an Internet connection and a lil’ jazz in your clickin’ finger, and you’re set to go – even at one-thirty on a Wednesday morning.

To sum it up quite simply: MonsterBox.TV is made by horror buffs, for horror fanatics. Once it would have been a real struggle to get our greedy little claws on such a colossal collection. No longer will we trawl through endless titles to pick up something is only vaguely interesting. Once you buy a film, it is yours to stream for life; you can relive the lunacy over and over again! Folks, it certainly is an exciting time for the horror and cult cinema fan. So, what are you waiting for? Go and click on something juicy.

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