Streaming increasingly popular in UK

Findings from consultancy firm KPMG suggest that streamed TV is becoming more mainstream in the UK, with the use of online streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV iPlayer or 4oD on the rise, particularly among younger people.

According to the firm’s latest KPMG Media & Entertainment Barometer, among streaming services offered in the UK, BBC iPlayer currently has the highest level of awareness with nine in ten people having heard of the online streaming service, followed by ITV player and LOVEFiLM.

The Barometer, which surveys UK consumers every six months on media consumption trends, also reveals that people are increasingly willing to pay for services. 64 per cent of respondents said they would pay for films online (60 per cent in March 2011). Appetite to pay for TV has also been creeping up, from 27 per cent in September 2010, to 28 per cent in March 2011 to 30 per cent by October 2011. Among those who are or would consider becoming a paid subscriber, film, music and TV is the preferred type of content that consumers are or would be willing to pay for.

“Judging by our survey, it seems that new entrants into the UK market have got their timing right,” noted David Elms, Head of Media at KPMG. “The foundations for online streaming services to be successful appear to be set. Not only is awareness and usage of streaming high, but willingness to pay for content has increased too.  There are, however, barriers, not least the likely cost of set-top boxes. What is more, by the end of 2012, everyone in the UK will have digital terrestrial TV, with the choice of between 20 and 30 channels. That’s a lot of free TV. It is possible that the majority of TV households don’t actually need anything more.”

KPMG also observed a continued rise in smartphone and tablet ownership. 44 per cent of respondents said they own a smartphone as their main phone (compared to 36 per cent six months ago and 27 per cent in 2010). More than three quarters of respondents (78 per cent) use their smartphones to browse the Internet and over two thirds (67 per cent) are using them for social networking. Tablet usage has more than doubled since September 2010 and owners continue to use tablets for a wide range of activities. This suggests that tablet owners are becoming more familiar and confident using their tablets as well as increased functionality on account of a wider range of available ‘apps’.

Similarly, smartphone and tablet spend is up. Successive waves of our research show that the average spend on smartphone and tablet apps is increasing, with eBooks taking up the largest share. Among those who download paid apps, the average spend is now £6.97 on smartphone (up from £5.65 six months ago). The average monthly spend on tablet apps has increased too £10.78 (from £8.87 six months ago).

While ownership and usage of such devices has increased, the usage of traditional media continues to decline, suggests KPMG. The majority of respondents said they prefer the use of ‘traditional media’ such as reading physical books or watching TV; however the consumption of traditional media continues to be on the decline (with the exception of watching TV).

In contrast, online newspapers and magazines as well as digital books are becoming increasingly popular, a trend that appears to be driven by the expanding tablet and eReader market. More than half of respondents (55 per cent) said they had read online newspapers in the last month (compared to 40 per cent six months ago) and 14 per cent said they had read digital books (compared to 8 per cent six months ago). Increases in social media usage are also apparent along with online music streaming and downloads.

However, money spent on both traditional and new media has remained stable. Consumers will spend most on eBooks and music download within new media activities; most likely because these are the most expensive to access compared to streaming music/TV, which at the moment tend to be free via online services.

“We continue to see mobile media as an attractive means to monetise content, given the continuing rise in the uptake of smartphones, tablets and eReaders. Whilst consumers continue to embrace new media at a rapid pace, a ‘mixed ecology’ persists, with a majority still enjoying traditional media such as reading books or watching TV,” Elms concluded.

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