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BBC iPlayer booms on mobiles as PC popularity fades

Watching more TV shows while not sitting down

The BBC's iPlayer service served a record-breaking 2.32 billion programme requests in 2012, but it was mobiles and not PCs driving the boom, the BBC has reported.

Anyone worried that the BBC's popularity might be waning will be encouraged by the staggering popularity of iPlayer, while anyone worried about the decline of the PC probably won't.

The iPlayer served 36.5 billion minutes of programming, with the Olympic Opening Ceremony on and after 29 July the most popular single programme with 3.3 million requests.

But it is the platforms on which this content was consumed that are the most revealing, with access from PCs dropping below 50 percent of viewing for the first time.

Mobiles and tablets grew 177 percent year-on-year to account for over a quarter of all viewing, with the remaining quarter or so viewed through Internet-connected TV sets, digiboxes and games consoles.

Mobile downloads have also registered impressive growth since the service was launched in September 2012, reaching 10.8 million.

The PC, then, is being sandwiched between the changing nature of TV consumption and mobiles used to watch on-the-move. At this rate of decline it will soon become a legacy device.

Viewers also seem to be consuming more content primarily through iPlayer rather than as scheduled programming on TV; December and the Christmas period recorded 217 million TV and radio requests on their own with January 1st 2013 hitting a record 6.73 million requests on its own.

"Last year, the use of iPlayer shifted from PCs and early adopter devices like game consoles to screens used by all audiences," noted Daniel Danker, General Manager, Programmes and On-Demand.

"Mobile, tablet, and connected TV skyrocketed, with a particular emphasis on audiences taking iPlayer on the go," he said.

Ultimately, it is not technology itself that is the point of iPlayer but the popularity of its programmes, particularly the worldwide phenomenon that is car comedy satire-cum-enthusiast show, Top Gear.

This programme alone accounted for eight of the top 20 programmes watched in the year.


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