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Boosted by YouTube, Online Video Booming in the UK

Around two-thirds of all UK internet users watch video online, and the time spent with video continues to rise

The world’s most popular video site marked its eighth birthday in February 2013. YouTube, owned by Google since 2006, now boasts over 800 million viewers around the world each month.

And tens of millions of these video viewers live in the UK. The UK’s Office for Communications (Ofcom) reported that 63% of the country’s internet users watched video online in August 2012.

Engagement with online video is rising. According to Experian Hitwise, online video viewing accounted for 5% of all UK web usage in February this year. UK residents made 1.06 billion visits to video sites that month, compared to 868 million in February 2012. In the two years since February 2011, the number of visits to video websites rose by an estimated 71%.

UK viewers are also spending more time with video, according to Experian Hitwise—a remarkable 323 million hours in February 2013. That represented year-over-year growth of 45%.

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are contributing to the escalation in UK video habits, though most viewing still takes place at home. The January 2013 “Consumer Mobile Streaming Survey” by Rovi Corporation found that nearly 80% of UK respondents who watched video on a tablet did so in the home environment. Even people using a mobile phone to stream video were much more likely to do so at home vs. at work or during their commuting time.

Compared to tablet users in other EU-5 countries, those in the UK who streamed video generally favored movies and TV shows over user-generated content, according to Rovi.

The boom in online video viewing is prompting steep rises in spending on video formats by UK advertisers—not least because video ads are often more engaging than static display ads. eMarketer estimates that UK advertisers will invest £258 million ($410 million) in digital video ads in 2013, and nearly £400 million ($635 million) in 2014.


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