Demand grows for Virgin VOD

The popularity of on demand television is showing no signs of abating. Virgin Media says its VOD service experienced a record breaking 2008 with 516 million on demand views recorded. 56 million views were made in December alone as usage climbed to 52% of Virgin’s customer base from the 50% reported in September.

The cablenet’s version of the BBC iPlayer is approaching 100 million views, accelerating from 10.5 million views in June to 17 million views in December, enabling Virgin to contribute around one third of traffic to the BBC’s on demand platform.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said increasing numbers of viewers were abandoning linear TV schedules in favour of on demand. “The launch of BBC iPlayer on our TV platform was a real tipping point in consumer understanding of on demand and we’ll continue this success with the launch of ITV Player. As we bring the nation’s favourite TV programmes to them, on the box, via PCs and on their mobiles, we are redefining how people watch TV.”

On demand viewing is attributed with putting TV audiences at their highest level since 2003. Full year figures for 2008 from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) reveal that the average person in the UK watched 26 hours, 18 minutes of TV a week, up 48 minutes on 2007.