One in three broadband users in the UK would be interested in an online library of downloadable films and television programmes, according to new research which suggests this could be worth nearly a billion pounds a year in Britain alone.

In the survey, most UK broadband users that expressed an interest said they would be prepared to pay &pound10 a month for such a service, and over 60% said they would pay up to £25 a month. While prospective users may tend to overstate their propensity to pay, if 3.7 million of them were to spend that much it would be worth nearly a billion pounds a year.

Usability is a vital consideration, the survey concludes, and marketing is also very important. The service needs to be sold on benefits — in other words the programming — as opposed to technology.

“Our research undoubtedly points to good demand for broadband TV, so the outlook for providers in this area is extremely positive,” said Niall Rae of research agency GfK NOP. “It is key, however, that pricing, usability and marketing strategies are at the centre of this emerging market in order to ensure that it doesn’t become yet another over-hyped technology which fails to reach its potential.”

The GfK NOP Digital Entertainment Survey is part of a regular tracking study covering trends in consumer online behaviour. A total of 1,600 respondents across Great Britain were interviewed in December 2005.

BT will launch its BT Vision service in the autumn and other providers are also set to offer broadband video services in the UK. The BT Vision service will offer programming on a pay-per-view rather than a monthly subscription basis, although users will have to be broadband customers.