Launched in November 2006, 4oD offers a range of programmes that have been recently broadcast on Channel 4, E4, More4, and from its archives that are permanently available to view. We reported back in August that Channel 4 was relaunching the service, that it says was “geared towards enhancing the user experience”, including predictive search and viewer-driven recommendations, which are designed to help the discoverability of archived content.
Long form video is typically anything over 20 minutes in length, and Channel 4 say that a combination of archive content and catch-up services drew in 40m views during December, which is down 4m on November which had been a record month for the service. Viewers of 4oD on Channel4.com watched for an average of 26 minutes per view in December, with the average number of hours viewed per month per user rising to 2 hours.
Series three of the drama series Misfits was the most viewed series in December, pulling in more than 3m views, whilst Hollyoaks remained the second most watched series with 2.2m views.
iPlayer vs. 4oD
It’s interesting to compare Channel 4′s VoD service with that of BBC iPlayer, which as we reported earlier this month also experienced a record year.
Web-enabled TVs, smartphones and tablets are driving the popularity of iPlayer, with 1.94 billion TV and radio programme requests made across all platforms in the UK in 2011 – its highest figure ever. Although computers are still the most popular platform for BBC iPlayer users, accounting for two-thirds of requests last year, December saw a massive spike particularly for mobiles, tablets and connected TVs.
BBC iPlayer registered 187 million monthly requests across all platforms in December alone, a 29% increase year-on-year. This reflects both the growing penetration of Internet-enabled devices, and the near-universal availability of BBC iPlayer on those devices. Of course, the BBC’s figures also include radio broadcasts, something that doesn’t constitute Channel 4′s offering.
However, the one thing we can glean from all this is that viewers are increasingly turning to the Internet to watch TV, and this is a trend that will continue as the proliferation of smartphones and tablets continues across the UK.