This article was published on February 23, 2012

BBC iPlayer booms in Australia, with a quarter of global subscribers now ‘Down Under’

BBC iPlayer booms in Australia, with a quarter of global subscribers now ‘Down Under’
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Two months after BBC Worldwide launched its global iPlayer app to 11 Western European countries in July, the app arrived in Australia, followed swiftly by Canada and then Scandinavia.

The global BBC iPlayer app is a Video-on-Demand (VoD) pilot (paid) subscription service that differs from the UK version of iPlayer, in that it gives international users access to an extensive archive of classic and contemporary British TV programmes. Whilst it was initially restricted to iPads, it was finally rolled out to the iPhone and iPod Touch too.

For comparison, the UK version of iPlayer is free (well, if you don’t count the licence fee…), and it’s more geared towards catch-up TV, with a short window to watch programmes following their initial broadcast.

Whilst the global iPlayer service is now available in 16 international territories, it seems it’s doing particularly well ‘Down Under’, with Aussies taking to the service in their droves. Matthew Littleford, General Manager for the global BBC iPlayer, presented at the tenth annual Australian Broadcasting Summit earlier today

iPlayer in Australia

Australia is now the biggest market for global iPlayer, and is giving BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, significant consumer insight as the company begins to look beyond the current pilot phase.

Access to BBC iPlayer content in Australia costs AU$9.49 a month, or AU$89.99 a year, and an equivalent figure in Euros and Canadian dollars.

In terms of subscription numbers, Australia’s global BBC iPlayer is now larger than the second and third countries combined (Germany and Holland), and it accounts for 20% of its global revenue.

Moreover, Littleford revealed that twenty three percent of global BBC iPlayer’s subscribers and 19% of the title downloads are in Australia. While the app itself is free to download, he revealed that of all the major territories, conversions to a paid service were higher in Australia than anywhere else, across all devices.

Littleford added that Australia was in line with other territories in terms of the way the global iPlayer was consumed.  Thirteen per cent of Australian users access the app on multiple devices and 7% of subscribers don’t have an iPad, implying that they are watching content solely on iPhone and iPod touch. Also in line with other markets, the average Australian subscriber watches just over four shows a week.

However there are some differences in how Australians are consuming iPlayer content. Littleford noted that there was more demand for content to be viewed ‘out of home,’ with Australians particularly keen on the download-to-view offline feature. This likely means that Aussies are accessing content to view whilst traveling, or perhaps commuting to work. Over a fifth of the content is being accessed in this way, compared to an average of 16% in other countries.

In Australia the most popular genres are Science Fiction, Family and Kids, and Comedy, with Doctor Who, Charlie and Lola and cult comedy Gavin and Stacey particularly popular.

“This graphically demonstrates the fact that VoD gives us a unique consumer insight,” said Littleford. “It clearly shows how a VoD service can quickly optimize itself to different territories by simply listening to its viewers.  Editorial decisions are already being made on a whole range of completely measurable new insight gained directly from existing viewer interaction and localised for each territory.”

The service’s success in Australia perhaps makes sense, not only because English is the native language, but also because of the high number of Brits living Down Under, thought to be in the region of 1.3million. It’s also a popular destination for gap-year students, with working-holiday schemes in place to make it easier for UK travelers to live and work there for up to a year.

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