“Treading water”: BBC iPlayer’s battle with Netflix and Amazon
James R | On 03, Feb 2017
BBC iPlayer needs to stop “treading water”, new research has warned, as the BBC’s catch-up service faces growing competition from Netflix and Amazon.
YouGov’s latest BrandIndex buzz rankings for the most positively talked about brands shows that BBC iPlayer remains in third, continuing its long-standing position in the UK’s Top 10. However, YouGov highlights Netflix’s new entry in at number seven as proof that the commercial streaming giant is posing a “serious challenge”.
BBC iPlayer continues to have the most users of any streaming service in the country, while its attachment to the BBC gives it a well-established brand identity. However, YouGov cautions that the BBC is “treading water while Amazon and Netflix are starting to make waves”.
Indeed, the last year as seen both step up their original content game by several gears, with Amazon becoming the new home of Top Gear trio Clarkson, Hammond and May and Netflix outbidding the BBC to make royal drama The Crown – winning a Golden Globe for Best Drama in the process.
“The public has started to take notice and our evidence suggests that they like what they see,” adds YouGov’s report.
Indeed, Netflix is already eyeing up a total of 100 million subscribers within the next month.
“Given both commercial services’ commitment to produce even more high-quality, big budget content in the year ahead, the challenge to the BBC is not going to go away any time soon,” says YouGove. “But the threat is not so much from any one brand. The issue is broader than that and comes down to how people take their telly – traditional TV versus streaming/on-demand.”
BBC iPlayer is already introducing a range of measures to adapt and become more than a catch-up destination. Alongside a focus on personalisation, a growing number of TV shows are now debuting as box sets on iPlayer alongside their broadcast premiere (such as The Living and the Dead – pictures above), sacrificing linear ratings to attract a new, online audience.
However, YouGov adds: “When we look at the changes in perception of the three services across the past year among their current customers it is evident that iPlayer is not making as much progress its competitors. 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.”
BBC iPlayer still has the lead over its rivals in watching “live” TV, with 48 per cent of iPlayer viewers watching over 10 hours a week, according to YouGov, compared to 39 per cent and 37 per cent of Amazon’s and Netflix’s customers. And, of course, all Amazon and Netflix customers are likely to use iPlayer as well as their paid subscription options.
“However, even with this taken into account, well over a third of Amazon and Netflix users watch over 10 hours of on-demand TV each week, while the same is true for only around a quarter of iPlayer viewers,” adds the report.
“It may be that we see 2016 as the year when on-demand services moved firmly to the mainstream,” concludes YouGov. “The question now is whether 2017 is the year the mainstream BBC can reverse this momentum and give Netflix and Amazon customers a service worth switching over for more regularly.”