BBC Christmas Figures Suggest that Long-Form Video’s Future is Unlikely to Be Mobile-First’


BBC iPlayerLast week the BBC published some viewing figures for iPlayer over the Christmas period. They found that connected TVs were the most popular devices to watch BBC iPlayer during the ‘festive fortnight’, with viewing on connected TVs up 32 per cent on the same period in 2014. Connected TVs accounted for 38 per cent of unique browsers, followed by 24 per cent on tablets, 22 per cent on computers and 17 per cent on mobiles.

Mobile and tablet usage still remained popular, with 391,000 app downloads throughout, peaking on Christmas Day of course when there were 90,000 downloads of the app.

On-demand long-form content’s return to the big screen has seemed inevitable. While mobile video’s staggering growth will undoubtedly continue and is here to stay, it seems equally likely that much of the long-form content consumption on smartphones and tablets was more a question of convenience i.e. they happened to be the only device with which the user could access content on-demand, rather than the user’s first choice.

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However, many publishers haven’t developed OTT apps yet of course, so the data from other sources tend to be a little skewed towards mobile. For example, FreeWheel’s Video Monetisation Report for Q3 2015 found that OTT services are more popular when it comes to live viewing, but tablets are the most popular for content longer than 20 minutes for on-demand. It would be interesting to see what these results would look like if the data was broken down into online publishers and broadcasters, and looked at the quality and platform penetration of TV apps:

Content Consumption by Device Type

The BBC example is interesting as they’re far out ahead of the rest of the industry when it comes to OTT apps, both in terms of the user experience and in ensuring they’re highly visible across all of the leading platforms, so their experience might well be something of a bellwether for the rest of the industry. After several ‘years of mobile’, we might finally be about to enter the year of OTT TV after many false starts.


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