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Online streaming popularity up; Brits willing to pay, survey shows

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 latest KPMG Media & Entertainment Barometer. The survey also reveals that consumers are increasingly willing to pay for services.

Sixty-four percent of the 2177 respondents aged 16+ said they would pay for films online. They were 60% in March 2011. Appetite to pay for TV has also been creeping up, from 27% in September 2010, to 28% in March 2011 to 30% by October 2011.

"Judging by our survey it seems that new entrants into the UK market have got their timing right,"? says David Elms, Head of Media at KPMG. "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."

"KMPG's research chimes with our own, which has consistently shown that the majority of people are willing to pay for film, TV and video content online," said Liz Bales, Director-General of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, the UK film and TV industry's copyright education body. "The findings send an encouraging message that UK consumers do value creative content and appreciate that there is a need to pay for it, whether it's on or offline. The UK audio-visual industry is working hard to provide a growing array of affordable digital services that meet consumers' needs. Today there are more than 30 official sites offering film and TV alone."

For her part, Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association, points out there are now 57 different digital services which consumers can use to view content legally in the UK. "In fact, according to figures from IHS Screen Digest, downloads and digital rental transactions grew in value by 15% in 2011, with a 12% year on year increase in transactions to 71 million. The rise reflects the growing success of tailored online services, particularly in video streaming and downloading, which now account for around 13% of the overall video market, worth some ?292 million in 2011."

"Nevertheless," Carey goes on, "DVD and Blu-ray Discs are still by far the most popular way to watch video entertainment, with consumers spending ?1.75 billion on over 207 million discs in 2011. When added to digital and rental transactions the total video entertainment sector is estimated to amount to around £2.25 billion in consumer spend in the last 12 months."

Other key KPMG survey findings point to the continuing rise in smartphone and tablet ownership. Some 44% of respondents said they own a smartphone as their main phone (compared to 36% six months ago and 27% in 2010). More than three quarters of respondents (78%) use their smartphones to browse the internet and over two thirds (67%) are using them for social networking.

Tablet usage has almost 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.'

The KPMG survey shows 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).

Usage of traditional media continues to decline, the research reveals. 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%) said they had read online newspapers in the last month (compared to 40% six months ago) and 14% said they had read digital books (compared to 8% 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, the analysts found. 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.

Story filed 23.01.12

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