Mobile phones and connected devices are gaining ground among users of the iPlayer. Phones, game consoles, set-top boxes and connected TVs now make up for 14 percent of the BBC’s immensely popular online TV service, according to new numbers from the broadcaster. The iPlayer is now available on more than 20 such devices, and the BBC just recently relaunched its Wii channel.
Non-PC devices are clearly starting to have an impact on the iPlayer’s overall use, which has grown close to 90 million requests in November. Also interesting are device-specific usage patterns. Turns out, the iPhone is starting to replace the Sunday newspaper as well as the book in bed.
No question, the BBC’s iPlayer has become an online video heavyweight ever since it was officially introduced to the public two years ago. The Beeb clocked a total of 88.2 million requests in November, with around 60 million requests for videos and the rest for the BBC’s radio programming. In fact, the iPlayer has been so popular that some UK ISPs have long been complaining about TV shows clogging their tubes.
The BBC made an iPhone version of the iPlayer available in early 2008, and Apple’s smartphone has since become an important platform for the broadcaster. In fact, iPhone users were responsible for 7 percent of all video views in October alone. (The broadcaster didn’t break down its numbers by device for November.)
So when are people watching TV on the iPhone, as opposed to the PC or the tube? During the week, mobile requests peak around 9 p.m., which the broadcaster takes as evidence that UK viewers are “snuggling up with their favorite BBC programs from the warmth and comfort of their own bed.” Interestingly, there’s another peak on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Maybe watching Dr. Who on your iPhone for breakfast has simply become more interesting than reading British tabloids?
The BBC also recently relaunched its Wii channel and is now serving H.264 video with 700kbps to the gaming console, and the broadcaster has big plans for connected devices with its project Canvas. Unfortunately, international viewers will only benefit indirectly from these developments, as most of the BBC’s online programming is restricted to UK residents.