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Bright future predicted for online TV

Surge in visits to BBC iPlayer

A screenshot of the BBC iplayer

New iPlayer service from the BBC

Online TV services which allow viewers to catch up with their favourite shows are set to experience a surge in popularity in 2008, industry analysts say.

Their prediction comes after UK online traffic to the BBC’s iPlayer website increased 14-fold over the past month.

The online catch-up TV service was the 80th most visited website in the UK for the week ending 5 January, having peaked at number 62 on New Year’s Day.

Internet research firm Hitwise said that despite the success of iPlayer, the BBC still has a way to go before it catches up with online video market leader YouTube.

Online video

For the week ending 5 January there were 96 times as many searches for ‘youtube’ as for ‘iplayer’, and 167 times as many as for ‘4od’, Channel Four’s own online TV catch up service.

But it says that the success of iPlayer, 4oD and other video websites shows that YouTube’s market leadership position will not be guaranteed in the future.

Robin Goad, Director of Research at Hitwise said: ‘The average visit time for iPlayer is currently just under nine minutes, compared with almost 20 minutes for YouTube.

‘People are currently in the testing phase of many of these new services, but all of the main terrestrial broadcasters now have viable online TV services, and people are really starting to use them.

‘Sites such as iPlayer also have a broader demographic reach than YouTube, particularly with regard to older users. Bearing these and other developments in mind, 2008 looks set to be the year when online video truly goes mainstream in the UK.’

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