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Virgin Media Hails VOD Rise, But Watch The Numbers

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Not that it doesn’t do this in its regular earnings reports anyway, but Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) today put out a release trumpeting a big increase in what’s becoming one of its core offerings. On-demand TV views were up a third from 34 million in January to 45 million last month, and now over half of customers are using VOD regularly.

Using EMR/Wiggan data from January, the outfit said it’s second only to YouTube for UK VOD views, “putting the company ahead of popular online services such as BBC iPlayer and Google”. Not only is this not strictly true, it’s also likely to rile one or two at the BBC – Virgin’s present VOD success is in large part down to its own addition of iPlayer, which it only made in May, so a comparison today based on out-of-date EMR figures would be unfair. iPlayer now contributes 11.5 million, or a quarter, of Virgin’s 45 million monthly VOD views, and Virgin reckons it’s customers view around a third of all BBC’s iPlayer shows, but again uses out-of-date data (this time, based on May BBC figures) to make that calculation.

Still, it is true to say Virgin’s twin strategy of broadband plus VOD is bedding down a lot better than its previous quad-play ambitions, with it, BBC, ITV.com and others now truly beginning to popularise VOD in the UK. Its VOD music TV service got 16 million views in August, kids VOD added 300,000 in the summer month to hit 2.5 million and FilmFlex got 15 percent more views than the previous month. The cultural adoption of the VOD service is plain to see, without needing to questionable secondary calculations. Release.