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UK Consumers, Ambivalent to Mobile Video Ads, Get More Ad-Free Options

ITV’s subscription-based mobile catch-up service takes ads out of the equation

June 21, 2013 | Video

According to May 2013 research from QuickPlay Media, only 22% of UK smartphone or tablet owners found video ads on their mobile device more appealing than those on TV. By all measures, UK viewers were less engaged by mobile video ads than viewers in the US.

It is not particularly surprising that UK viewers were more comfortable with ad programming on TV, given the UK’s longstanding comfortability with this medium, and the associated acceptance of ads as part of that landscape. But as TV and video-on-demand (VOD) viewing become available on mobile devices, consumers are developing new expectations—and less intrusive advertising is one of them.

Attitudes Toward Mobile Video Ads According to US and UK Smartphone/Tablet Owners*, May 2013 (% of respondents)

There is evidence to suggest that VOD is gaining traction in the mobile space. The UK’s most popular catch-up service, BBC’s iPlayer, saw requests to PCs drop in March 2013. While requests to nontablet mobile devices also dropped slightly in February, those requests seem to have leveled off, while tablet requests saw a marked rise. The upshot is that combined requests to both mobile and tablet devices were reaching parity with those to PCs.

BBC iPlayer TV Requests*, by Device, Jan-March 2013 (millions)

The commercial broadcaster ITV has taken these two pieces of evidence into account and launched a subscription-based ad-free catch-up TV service. This service is offered for a flat fee of £3.99 ($6.33) per month. Meanwhile, the traditional ITV Player service that carries advertising remains in service, giving consumers a choice—if their aversion to mobile video ads is strong enough, there is now an option open to them; otherwise, it’s business as usual—even on mobile.

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