The latest annual BARB report provided intriguing insights into the most recent developments in the TV industry. This included the rise of SVOD services (e.g. subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and VOD viewing), and how this content is consumed.
Analysts predicted that growth in TV player viewing would be driven by commuters watching on their phones while on the move, but surprisingly results from the BARB report contradict this. Tablets and personal computers still dominate online TV viewing and over 40% of all TV player viewing takes place after 9pm, with viewing levels tailing off later than established patterns, which could be explained by more people watching TV in bed.
It is also interesting to note that while Android competes evenly with Apple for sales of smartphones and tablets, the latter is more dominant in BARB’s measurement of TV viewing. Whether it is the nature of the user experience or a reflection of the demographic that owns the devices, it’s striking that far more online TV viewing comes through Apple’s iOS platform.
Broadcast content continues to dominate the lives and screen time of the UK population, with television consistently capturing huge audiences in a way that other platforms simply cannot compete with. Despite this, 2016 is another important year for SVOD services. Netflix have already invested in the creation of 600 hours of original content and Amazon Prime is investing heavily in big-name talent such as Jeremy Clarkson. Top Gear has been watched by 350 million individuals worldwide, proving a steep hill for Amazon Prime & Clarkson’s The Grand Tour to climb. There is still a lot of catching up to do – towards the end of 2015 TV player apps hit a high point of 855 million minutes viewed during one week compared to 95.2 billion minutes watching TV in the same week.
BARB’s latest research proves that VOD is not a replacement for live TV but rather a supplement, though its significance should not be diminished. Strong results emphasise this; Made in Chelsea and TOWIE feature far more prominently on app viewing than they do in conventional ratings. In addition, the success of BBC Three as an online platform has been revealed in this BARB report with the list of top 10 watched online shows featuring their shows Cuckoo and Life On Death Row.
To conclude, the BARB report confirms that VOD services are yet to outweigh traditional TV viewing; we are still living in a golden age of TV where people talk about it, share thoughts on social media and spend 3 hours 51 minutes each day, on average, watching their favourite programmes. However, it will be interesting to see if BBC Three continues to enjoy such strong results and whether any other broadcasters follow suit with an online-only offering.