YouTube Still Europe's Top VOD Service as Netflix, Facebook Make Gains

Courtesy of Netflix
Netflix has made inroads into Europe with original series including 'Orange is the New Black.'

A new study shows the continent remains a diverse market.

Netflix has blown past Google-owned YouTube to become the most watched video on demand (VOD) service in the U.S., but in Europe, YouTube and home-grown streaming services continue to fragment the market.

A new study of VOD usage in the U.S. and nine European markets by London-based TV research group Ampere Analysis shows increasing demand everywhere but no consensus as to what to watch.

Based on self-reported usage from customers over the past month, Ampere says Netflix has become the most-watched VOD service in the U.S., with 47 percent of those contacted reporting having used the streamer, compared to 42 percent for YouTube and 22 percent for third-place Amazon Instant Video.

But across Europe, YouTube continues to reign supreme. In the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, YouTube, which unlike Netflix is free-to-use, was the most-watched on-demand service. Outside the U.S., Denmark was the only country where Netflix dominated, with 41 percent of users saying they watched the pay service over the past month.

In four of the five biggest European territories (Germany, France, Italy and Spain), Netflix was not even listed as one of the top five VOD services. Netflix has only recently rolled out in much of Europe and, in certain territories, faces tough local competition.

In the U.K., Netflix came in third, with 20 percent of respondents reporting usage in the past month, compared with 44 percent for YouTube and 36 percent for the BBC iPlayer, a VOD service run by Britain's public broadcaster.

Facebook made the top five in several territories, including the U.S. (15 percent), Germany (14 percent), France (13 percent) and Italy (31 percent), suggesting the social media giant is making inroads into the video market. Like YouTube, Facebook's main video services are free-to-use.

Local broadcasters, many of which operate their own VOD services, are giving the streaming giants a run for their money, at least on a country-by-country basis. France's MyTF1, Pluzz TV and Orange TV; Rai TV and Mediaset in Italy; and, in Germany, ZDF Media and RTL Now were among the top five most-watched on-demand services.

Ampere noted that subscription online video services, such as Netflix and Amazon, are gradually winning market share from free-to-use operators in a few territories, including the U.S., the U.K. and Scandinavia.

Richard Broughton, research director at Ampere Analysis, said that exclusive series on Netflix and Amazon are “driving willingness to pay for content, and over time this will penetrate the older viewer population who have traditionally been reluctant to spend online.”

Ampere also noted that while VOD services can typically be watched on multiple devices, more people watch on TV screens than via any other means, suggesting that “ensuring good quality of experience on connected TV devices and Smart TVs remains crucial,” said Broughton.

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