Virgin VOD reaches 50%

The proportion of subscribers accessing Virgin Media’s on demand service has passed 50% for the first time. The figure compares favourably with other international providers such as UPC Netherlands, which yesterday said it had reached 40%, itself a significantly high figure.

Virgin announced that the number of views had increased from 34 million in January to 45 million views in August 2008. However, while it is clearly significant that the numbers are on a high, international comparisons are problematic given that some operators count trails alongside full-length films and catch-up TV.

The figures have been further boosted by the launch of the cable version of the BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer averages 11.5 million views per month on Virgin and represents a third of the BBC catch-up service’s views overall.

“We are clearly on the precipice of some fundamental changes in the way people watch TV,” said Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media. The giant leaps we have taken, this year alone, show how popular on-demand viewing has become and as we continue to add compelling programming and develop innovative new way of accessing it, we will certainly enter a new era of television.”

FilmFlex, the Disney-Sony-owned movies VOD service, grew by 15% month-on-month following a 9% rise in July. It has registered 30 million buys since its launch in 2005.

Virgin’s music on demand service also peaked in August at 16 million views, while kids programming reached 2.5 million on the back of Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.