Market Insight

BBC iPlayer data reveals consumer preference for tablet-based viewing

April 30, 2014

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BBC iPlayer video consumption on tablets has now reached parity with viewing on the PC. Data from the UK public broadcaster shows that in March 2014, 29% of iPlayer video requests were initated from PCs, with a further 29% initiated from tablets.

The number of requests from tablets compares favourably to the 18% of video requests from mobile phones. The remaining 24% of requests outside the three leading device categories were via the TV set - either through smart TVs or DMAs (3%), games consoles (5%) or through ‘TV platforms’ (16%) - the BBC’s collective term for set top boxes from BSkyB, Virgin Media, BT Vision and YouView.

Our take

Total iPlayer video viewing reached 248 million requests in March 2014, an increase of 24% from 12 months prior. Of the additional 48 million views compared to March 2013, 44 million were via tablets and smartphones, 91% of total growth. Tablet and smartphone viewing is also driving video consumption growth on other broadcaster on-demand services - ITV reported 15% long-form video growth in 2013, led by tablets and smartphones. On a per-device basis, tablets overindex on long-form video consumption - with larger screen sizes key to consumers' preferences.

Whilst PC viewership retained the largest share of consumption by device category, IHS expects PC's slow decline in its share of total views to continue, with the combined smartphone and tablet share of viewing expected to reach above 50% by year-end 2014. March 2014 was also the first time that the iPlayer radio service saw PC share of requests drop below 50%.

Consumers are increasingly using tablets as their second screen device of choice. While a large proportion of consumers are still viewing online video on PCs, PC requests have declined year-on-year. In 2013, BBC iPlayer saw 127 and 124 million PC requests in January and February respectively compared to 110 and 105 million requests per month on PC for January and February in 2014. In March of 2013, of the 200 million online video requests, only 38 million were requested on tablets; this had nearly doubled to 71 million requests in 2014.

Consumers are increasing the amount of time they spend engaging in content (videos, news, games, etc) on tablets and smartphones. The challenge this presents for traditional PC vendors is to produce devices consumers will want to buy and use. As the PC market continues to experience a decline of shipments, many traditional PC vendors are entering into the tablet and smartphone sectors in an attempt to stay relevant to the changing market - but this is not a straightforward process. For example, Microsoft has had a difficult time with growing its Surface tablet sales, mostly due to price, but also some performance issues, combined with a weaker app ecosystem than rival Android and iOS devices. Two traditional PC vendors who have had better success in the tablet market are Asus and Lenovo with a broad range of tablets available to consumers at competitive pricepoints. But understanding consumers’ media consumption habits is going to be key as traditional PC vendors try to grow their tablet business.

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