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Why the surge in BBC iPlayer usage?

BBC iPlayer, the online on-demand service from the broadcasting giant, has seen usage soar in 2012 – driven largely by mobile device viewing.

Once upon a time, there were concerns that the internet could spell the end for television. But it seems we love the idiot box more than ever, we just prefer to watch when it suits us.

The BBC has reported that viewing figures for iPlayer are up a massive 24% from last year, fuelled by hit shows like the excellent Sherlock and the watchable Top Gear.

The on-demand service has been going from strength to strength in its relatively short life, but this year looks set to be the start of something really big.

In the three months to the end of April this year, iPlayer users made an average of more than 190 million programme requests per month. So why has there been such a surge?

BBC iPlayer on TV

iPlayer started out as just a website, but it has quickly found its way on to Smart TVs and internet-enabled set-top boxes like Virgin Media’s Tivo and BT Vision.

The BBC has said that viewing on these platforms made up 5% of the total iPlayer usage in April. It may not sound like much, but this is up from just 1% the same time last year.

As well as that, the number of users viewing programmes via a computer is steadily falling. Computers accounted for 57% of all usage in April, compared to 67% a year ago – showing that trends are slowly changing.

BBC iPlayer on mobile

iPlayer usage has been going up across the board, but mobile viewing has seen by far the biggest increase. The BBC revealed that iPlayer usage on smartphones and tablets has gone up by a whopping 94% from last year.

In April, mobile viewing accounted for around 15% of the total iPlayer usage – a trend which is sure to continue as smartphone and tablet sales increase.

Traditional TV viewing is actually at a ten-year high, according to Ofcom, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped us from catching up on missed programmes, or simply enjoying them a second time around. Long live BBC iPlayer!


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