Put your alternate content here

Online video viewing: what happens when hybrid TV takes off?

Comments Off on Online video viewing: what happens when hybrid TV takes off?

The BBC iPlayer seems to go from strength to strength. The latest figures show that it received 117m requests for programmes across all platforms in June 2010, including Virgin cable’s VOD service – slightly down on the previous month, but still considerably higher than a year ago.

What’s been intriguing about these figures for some time is Virgin’s performance, because it shows us how catch-up TV performs in a bona fide TV environment, rather than on the PC via the Internet.

It’s clear, for instance, that while the iPlayer is used by a much smaller user base through Virgin than on the Internet, actual usage per viewer on the cable VOD platform is much higher.

Consider: the BBC figures show that those 117m requests break down as follows: 69.6m were online video requests, while 16.7m were Virgin VOD ones (the rest were radio requests). But the Virgin statistics relate to a much smaller universe: according to Comscore, 29.6m people in the UK accessed online video in January 2009 – a total that’s likely to have grown substantially since then. Whereas Virgin boasts that “over 2.1 million Virgin Media homes are now regularly watching TV on demand.”

What that means is that regular Virgin VOD users are accessing iPlayer around eight times a month, whereas UK online users are accessing it just over twice a month on average. Even stretching the Virgin universe to include all subscribers capable of accessing the iPlayer (around 3.5m) still gives the cable platform well over double the usage.

It may not be a surprise to anyone that people prefer watching TV on … a TV set.  But spin forward a few years to an environment where penetration of hybrid broadcast-plus-IP platforms is much higher. What would that signify for video viewing via the Internet on PCs and laptops?

If one takes the view that the ongoing surge in online video viewing is simply an indicator of suppressed demand for watching catch-up TV on the television, the implication could be that as the hybrid TV/IP sector begins to take off, online video viewing levels will begin to plateau – and eventually to decrease.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait a few years to test that particular hypothesis.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 7:44 am and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.