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UK Viewers Taking to TV on Tablets

YouTube remains top digital video property, but the BBC's iPlayer gains ground

eMarketer estimates that almost three-quarters of UK internet users—nearly 57% of the entire population—will watch video content via the internet at least monthly in 2014.

And that number will continue to rise through 2017, though only at low single-digit rates. Whatever the growth rate, digital video in the UK now constitutes a mass-market proposition.

YouTube is far and away the most popular destination for digital video viewers. According to a Nielsen//NetRatings ranking from July 2013, it was the No. 1 video site among UK internet users, pulling in 19.1 million unique visitors. Some way back in second place, with 4.9 million visitors, was the BBC’s iPlayer site, itself well ahead of “the rest.” But the iPlayer service continues to see increasing user engagement, particularly via tablet devices.

According to its own data, the BBC saw the number of iPlayer requests in November 2013 up 27% year over year. And while the service’s popularity continues to rise, the device of choice is increasingly leaning toward tablets. One-quarter of all requests in November 2013 came from such a device, with requests from computers just 8 percentage points ahead.

Tablet usage is catching up fast. Indeed, the speed with which UK consumers are taking to TV viewing via tablets was highlighted in a January 2014 blog post from Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer. Taylor revealed that Boxing Day 2013 “saw tablet viewing overtake computer viewing for the first time in iPlayer history.”

However, among all this excitement of growing interest in tablets for on-demand TV viewing, the fact remains that the TV set is still, by quite some distance, the device of choice for watching TV content.

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