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UK on-demand TV hits ‘saturation point’

BBC iPlayer thumbThe UK market for on-demand TV is reaching saturation point, with only a limited potential new audience for these services, according to new research by YouGov. 

The market research agency said that instead of looking for new audiences to generate growth and revenue, providers should shift strategies and look to maximise what they get from existing customers.

According to its stats, 48% of the online population in the UK used digital catch-up services in the last three months. However, among those that did not watch catch-up TV, just 7% said they thought they would start doing so in the next year, compared to 79% that said they were unlikely to.

“Among converts there is clearly a huge appetite for content on-demand services in the UK. However, those who don’t currently access content have a limited interest in doing so in the future,” said Shaun Austin, associate director for media consulting at YouGov.

“Therefore, the focus for digital content providers needs to be on working out ways to get the most out of the existing current user base rather than expanding into new audiences.”

Among those who did access on-demand TV services, the BBC’s iPlayer was most popular, followed by YouTube. Austin said that this demonstrates that consumers gravitate towards free services, presenting a challenge for pay providers looking to attract viewers.

“As newspaper paywalls have shown, this will not be easy, especially when commercial rivals have to face-off against the dominant free-to-view BBC iPlayer,” said Austin. “Providers should look towards services like Spotify to see how it can be done.”