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U.K. VOD Sales Expected to Spike During Holiday Period

Bad Santa H 2012
Dimension Films
"Bad Santa"

Sales of tablets, games consoles and a heavy schedule of reruns on free TV will drive the anticipated uptick in consumers seeking content on demand.

LONDON – U.K. viewers are expected to watch more TV on demand than ever during the upcoming holiday season, according to research commissioned by, well, a VOD operator.

According to a report commissioned by Blinkbox, the U.K. video-on-demand operator owned and operated by the world's third-largest retailer, Tesco, 43 percent of the 2,000 Brits asked say they’ll be tuning in to a VOD service.

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Boxing Day – Dec. 26 -- is the most popular festive day for movie and TV viewings, with 80 percent of those surveyed predicting they will by then be "fed up" with the amount of repeats on free-to-air TV.

Retail data gathered also points to a likely uptick in VOD viewing, as retailers are posting big sales of tablets and games consoles, popular devices for screening such content. TV schedules during the holidays are also littered with repeats in the U.K.

The Blinkbox research predicts that Boxing Day 2013 could be the biggest day of the year for VOD sales, fuelled by rampant pre-Christmas sales of tablets such as Tesco’s own Hudl.

With Blinkbox sales via tablets up 1,230 percent in 2013 and sales via games consoles and connected TVs both up more than 500 percent, the way U.K. consumers are buying and accessing content is definitely changing.

According to the survey, 1 in 5 Brits said they expect to watch less TV with the family due to the range of choices available via new Internet services and connected devices.

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"The fight to be the entertainment hub is really heating up, and fans of great entertainment have never had it so good," said Michael Comish, group digital officer at Tesco and co-founder of Blinkbox.

"Being able to enjoy the latest and greatest movies and TV shows on multiple devices on your own terms really spells the end of the TV turkey at Christmas," he added.

Comish also noted that Brits "aren’t watching less TV" but that they are enjoying content "on a variety of screens."

Blinkbox is planning a January sale beginning Dec. 26, reducing the price of hundreds of movies.

More than 8 million tablets were sold in the U.K. in 2012, with more than half of sales in the last quarter of the year alone, according to research firm CCS Insight.

In the first half of 2013, almost six million tablets were sold in the U.K., and demand is expected to accelerate into Christmas with the explosion in discount tablets made available by retailers including Tesco and Amazon.

Telephone and broadband provider TalkTalk TV had an additional word of warning for TV viewers planning to tune in the traditional way over the holidays: Research from the company predicts the average viewer will have at least four arguments in front of the TV between Christmas and New Year.

TalkTalk TV's seasonal research indicates that with families, friends and partners congregating in front of the TV to watch a host of festive specials, the red mist will descend on the majority, with 80 percent set to argue over what, when and how loud to watch TV in the coming days.

While most arguments are likely to start over what to watch, the survey of 3,000 Brits found that 47 percent will quarrel over the best place to sit, with Mom expected to win the best spot on the sofa, followed by Grandma.

However, Dad has his own sway, as 7 out of 10 believe the family patriarch has control over the remote, choosing what the family watches and when.

A quarter of those questioned admitted that television volume is the main gripe, with teenagers listening at full volume and grandparents happy to watch on mute.

Women aged 25 to 34 were found to be the most confrontational, with men older than 55 the least likely to voice their opinion, preferring to have a snooze while the rest of the family are entertained.

TalkTalk's Tristia Harrison said, "TV has long been the source of many a debate, from what program to watch to who is in control of the remote. The festive season is a time for families to get together, and it's inevitable that with so many films, specials and classic reruns, there will be a few clashes."

Harrison noted that services such as seven-day catch-up and the ability to pause, rewind and record live TV might mean squabbles "won’t be about missing your favorite show."

TalkTalk competes with other telecom and broadband providers including British Telecom, Virgin Media and BSkyB.