The BBC says that connected televisions were the most popular devices for watching BBC iPlayer in the ‘festive fortnight’ at the end of 2015. It says connected televisions accounted for 38% of unique browsers, a considerable jump on previous months and the same period the previous year.
In October 2014 only 8% of requests for television programmes on the BBC iPlayer were from internet televisions or connected devices, including Freeview and Freesat smart televisions, set-top boxes and devices like Roku. In January 2014 it was only 2%.
Dan Taylor-Watt, the head of BBC iPlayer, said: “Christmas was an extremely popular time for watching programmes on BBC iPlayer — and not just people viewing on computers, tablets and phones. We’ve seen a real surge in people watching the best of the BBC through connected TVs.”
The most request programme in the period from 21 December to 31 December was the serial drama EastEnders. It received almost 1.5 million online requests for the Christmas Day episode. The programme also accounted for 8 of the top 20 programmes on iPlayer over the period.
Mobile and tablet usage still remained popular, with 391,000 app downloads over the fortnight, peaking on Christmas Day when there were 90,000 downloads of the app.
Generally, the BBC reports that around a quarter of requests for television programmes on the iPlayer come from computers, with over 40% coming from tablets and mobile devices.
BARB data, which currently only tracks BBC iPlayer on-demand viewing on Android, Apple and web browsers, reported total viewing of 550 million minutes for the week ending 3 January, and 510 million minutes for the previous week. That is just over 20 minutes a week per household, or 10 minutes per individual.
The BARB TV Player Report said that across these platforms the Christmas Day episode of EastEnders received 301,582 streams, of which 56,000 were from Android devices, 116,000 on Apple devices and 128,000 through the web site.
This industry metric relates to the total viewing time of a programme on a TV Player by all devices in the reported period, divided by the full length of the programme.
Ironically, BARB does not currently track online viewing on connected televisions. Even so, there appears to be a significant difference between the BBC reporting of ‘requests’ and the average online viewing reported by BARB, although both simply measure streams, rather than the number of people viewing.
While one might expect viewing on computers and portable devices to be by individuals, more than one person might be watching on a connected television.
The BBC is planning to offer personalisation on its connected television app, allowing users to pause and resume viewing across different devices. However, supporting personalisation on a shared screen remains a challenge.