Half a billion views for Virgin Media's on demand TV

Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Virgin Media logo

  • TV viewing habits on brink of major change
  • Record-breaking year with 516 million on demand views in 2008
  • BBC iPlayer on Virgin Media approaching 100 million views

2008 was the year on demand television came of age with Virgin Media’s TV viewers watching over half a billion on demand programmes. With a record-breaking 56 million views in December alone, equivalent to over 1000 episodes of EastEnders watched on demand every minute, on demand’s popularity has grown by over 60 per cent in the last 12 months(1).

Driven by great catch up content from the BBC, Channel 4 and, soon ITV, outstanding music success for the X Factor finalists and blockbuster films, more people than ever are watching on demand, with 52 per cent of Virgin Media’s 3.5 million TV customers regularly using the service.

Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “More and more viewers are abandoning TV schedules and choosing to watch the programmes they want, when they want. 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.”

Virgin Media is the first TV platform to offer BBC iPlayer to viewers and, since the service launched in May 2008, it has reached nearly 100 million views(2). Viewing has accelerated from 10.5 million views in June to 17 million views in December and Virgin Media’s TV platform now accounts for approximately one third of all BBC iPlayer views(3). With ITV Player soon to join Virgin Media’s catch up service, even more of the nation’s most popular television programmes will be available on demand in 2009, from EastEnders and Top Gear to Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The X Factor.

The success of the X Factor Finalists, Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis, all contributed to the popularity of on demand music. Their respective number one singles, ‘Hero’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Run’, received over one million views. The introduction of skippable playlists to the music service, enabling viewers to explore new music and easily find their favourite tracks, has also encouraged increased use.

Thanks to the availability of seasonal favourites such as Fred Claus and this year’s cinema blockbusters, Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Virgin Media’s Movies on demand service experienced a 10% month-on-month growth in December. The service, operated and managed by FilmFlex, has now totalled over 35 million buys since launch and offers more on demand movie premieres than any other service in Europe.

On demand TV enables viewers to watch what they want, when they want, at the touch of a button. Virgin Media offers a vast library of thousands of hours of TV shows, movies, music and kids programming, all of which can be watched on your television.

1. 56 million views in December 2008, up from 33 million views in Q4 2007
2. 95 million views of BBC iPlayer on Virgin Media’s TV platform May – December 2008
3. 41 million requests to view BBC TV programmes via BBC iPlayer online in December 2008

Average views for Q4 2008

                                       Q4 2008      Q4 2007
                                    ----------   ----------
Average total views per month       53 million   33 million
Average views per user per month            30           23
Average reach                              52%          47%