Mainstreaming: VOD usage spreads as over-35s head online
James R | On 21, May 2015
Streaming is going mainstream, as growth in subscription VOD services, such as Netflix, is now being driven by those over the age of 35.
Video on-demand has always been considered the world of the young: new, connected viewers, watching iPlayer on their phones, while their parents look at the RadioTimes in the living room. But new figures show that the older generations are heading online too: according to Decipher’s latest Mediabug report, recent growth in VOD usage has been solely due to those over the age of 35.
The study (a consumer survey of 3,000 UK consumers) shows that 30 per cent of UK consumers use an SVOD service each month, an increase of 4 per cent in the past six months. This growth has come from older age groups, with usage among 35-44 year olds growing 7 per cent and among 45-54 year olds by 15 per cent. Those above the age of 55 also increased by 8 per cent. Usage of those between the ages of 16 and 24, on the other hand, dropped 12 per cent over the same period. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime grew their subscriber bases over this period, with Netflix adding 6 per cent to their paid subscribers, and Amazon Prime adding 3 per cent.
This growing mainstream appeal is being fuelled by access: SVOD services are increasingly available on TVs and set top boxes, with Netflix having signed deals not just with Virgin TiVo, but with Youview boxes too. Indeed, the streaming media device sector has surged in the past year: since Google Chromecast launched, Amazon has released not one but two set top boxes, while Roku continues to produce updated devices.
Now, BBC iPlayer reaches more regular viewers through TV set top boxes than it does through the web and devices combined: the Beeb’s catch-up service is accessed monthly by 29 per cent of UK consumers through set top boxes – ahead of the 28 per cent using the web or other devices.
NOW, meanwhile, has increased Sky’s monthly VOD reach by just over 3 per cent: three in 10 of UK residents who have broadband internet access Sky or Now TV on demand either through a set top box or online through a multitude of devices monthly.
New data from Juniper Research emphasises the appeal of an easy-to-connect, affordable set top box: their recent Mobile and Online TV & Video report found that consumers will favour connected TVs as their primary screen, highlighting the trend for watching long-form video on OTT subscription services. (According to a BARB viewing report, the number of films on live TV securing audiences of over 2.5 million has dropped significantly in the last 10 years, as just over a third of VOD users stream films on demand.)
“Previously ‘dumb’ TVs will see an upsurge in becoming ‘connected’ due to the cost-effectiveness of devices such as Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick,” predicts the report, “as well as the high uptake of games consoles and STBs which provide preloaded services. This is in contrast to smart TVs which currently offer poor operating systems and user interfaces.”
Smart TVs, many of which have apps for both Netflix and Amazon Prime, do have a part to play, though: 29 per cent of broadband-enabled homes now have one, and 89 per cent of them are connected to the Internet, according to Decipher.
“With over 35’s getting on board with subscription VOD, we can see that it has moved past early adopter behaviour and is gaining mainstream acceptance, and this is driven by SVOD becoming increasingly accessible on the most popular mainstream device: the TV,” comments Director of Decipher Media Research Dr. Hamish McPharlin.
As older generations find streaming increasingly accessible, the mainstream growth of VOD will spark a surge in audience numbers. Juniper now forecasts that subscribers to OTT TV services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, will increase from 92.1 million in 2014, to 332.2 million globally by 2019.