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The way people in the UK watch long-form video content is changing. Live TV remains the most pervasive channel by quite some distance, but there’s no doubting the increasing influence of video-on-demand (VOD). Indeed, its prevalence has led to the appearance of the term “binge-watch” in the Oxford online dictionary. The type of content that VOD subscribers are most likely to binge on, however, varies between UK and US audiences.
According to March 2014 research from GfK, more VOD subscribers in the UK—66%—were likely to have signed up to a streaming service in order to access movie back catalogs than for any other reason. The proportion who signed up in order to binge-watch TV episodes was less than half that, at just 32%.
The picture in the US was broadly similar, inasmuch that more people signed up to catch up on movie back catalogs—cited by 58% of respondents. However, the proportion who planned to binge-watch TV episodes wasn’t too far behind, and was much higher than in the UK, at 42%.
One of the likeliest reasons for this variation stems from the fact that the UK has an incredibly well-developed TV on-demand ecosystem—and one that’s largely “free” to access. The BBC’s iPlayer service, for example, is incredibly well stocked and attracts the biggest VOD audience by some margin. It’s entirely likely, then, that binge-watching UK consumers catch up with more TV than is illustrated by the GfK data—they just don’t pay for the pleasure.
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