iPlayer ‘treads water’ as Amazon & Netflix ‘make waves’

iPlayer across four screens light backgroundThe BBC is “treading water” with its iPlayer service while Amazon and Netflix are “starting to make waves”, according to new YouGov research.

The study claims that while the BBC’s UK on-demand and catch-up service has more users that its US streaming rivals, it is “not making as much progress” as its competitors.

“When it comes to assessing the direction of travel, it seems iPlayer is going one way while its rivals are going the other,” according to the report.

“Across perceptions of value, satisfaction and quality, the corporation’s service saw declines among all ages in 2016, while, largely speaking, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video saw improvements.”

YouGov said that the threat to the BBC comes not from a single brand, but from the broader issue of how viewers access television programming.

Amazon and Netflix users were found to be far heavier consumers of on-demand TV, while iPlayer viewers were “more likely just to dip their toes in to streaming”.

A third of Amazon and Netflix users watch over ten hours of on-demand TV per week, compared to around a quarter of iPlayer viewers, according to YouGov.

“In the past year especially, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have made their mark in the UK,” said the study, claiming that the “battle of on-demand streaming television services continues to intensify”.

“With big-budget original content blockbusters such as The Crown and The Grand Tour, both have firmly established themselves as content creators as well as providers. The public has started to take notice and our evidence suggests that they like what they see.”

The news comes in the same month that BBC director general Tony Hall said that the BBC must “reinvent public service broadcasting” in a bid to take on digital video giants like Amazon and Netflix.

In a speech to BBC staff in Birmingham to mark the beginning of the BBC’s new eleven-year charter period, Hall said that the BBC iPlayer must “make the leap from a catch-up service to a must-visit destination in its own right”.

“Our goal, even in the face of rapid growth by our competitors, is for iPlayer to be the number one online TV service in the UK. That will mean doubling our reach, and quadrupling the time each person spends on it every week. And we want do it by 2020.”