Online streaming storms the UK | Media Analysis | Business
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The UK online video market is quickly reaching a level of maturity that will require new players as well as incumbents to carry out a granular analysis of their audiences if they want to extend their reach and take more market share says a new research note from Comscore.
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The post from regional marketing manager Alex Gevers says that given Disney, Apple, and Amazon’s push into the video streaming space, and the proliferation of alternatives such as BritBox, or NOW TV, the ability to deliver truly appealing content will become even more critical to grab market share.

Aiming to find out who the new users and their habits, Comscore’s study looked at video streaming behaviour in the UK on desktop and mobile devices. It found that consumers who streamed video on these devices tended to access sites or apps in a number of categories, namely: free streaming services; subscription services; pay-per-video sites. Looking at the latter, Comscore noted that in the period from December 2018 to December 2019, the number of unique visitors who accessed these sites or apps barely changed. That is the number of unique visitors to these sites went from 27.6 million to 28.7 million, a 3.9% year-on-year increase.

Yet Comscore stressed that observers should not look at this statistic and conclude that the market for online video has reached its saturation point. It noted that the reality is more nuanced than that. First, the analysis excludes traffic to streaming services through set-top-boxes and smart TVs. Secondly, Comscore says that a breakdown of audiences by platform would paint a different picture showing that while video watching has decreased on desktop devices, it has increased on mobile devices.

Looking to attribute reasons for this latter trend, Comscore floated the idea that one possible interpretation for the decline of desktop device traffic could be that consumers are adopting smart TVs and other connected devices, allowing them to watch movies or TV programmes on a large screen while bypassing the desktop browser altogether. As regards, the increased video consumption on mobile devices, the analyst said that the practice of bundling mobile phone subscriptions packages with all-you-can-watch film streaming from select services is likely to have promoted the emergence of new viewing habits.

Looking at mobile video, not surprisingly the research found that younger audiences were far more likely to visit video streaming sites or apps on mobile devices (66% for consumers in the 18-24 age bracket) than older audiences (51% for the 55+ group). Younger audiences were also found to spend far more time on these sites and apps: those in the 18-24 age group for example spent more than four times the amount of time that the 55+ consumers did. Yet the research also highlighted that service loyalty increased as the age of consumers increased. Fewer (44%) of consumers aged 55+ visited two or more video streaming sites on mobile. For consumers in the 18-24 age bracket, that proportion was 55%.

Summing up the Comscore analysis, Gevers said: “There is no doubt that with their financial firepower and marketing nous, video streaming services such Apple’s or Disney’s will be able to grab market share; there might even be a bit of room for niche players such as BritBox. What is clear is that the market is quickly reaching a level of maturity that will require new players as well as incumbents to carry out a granular analysis of their audiences if they want to extend their reach and take more market share. One thing is for sure, in the coming months, the online video space in the UK will be a very interesting space to watch.”