BBC: VOD Streams Hit Record in 2012

Olympics Dominate Euro Ratings

The London 2012 Olympic Games, which wrapped up with a star-studded closing ceremony Sunday, set ratings records around the world.  NBC's controversial tape-delay coverage drew more than 219 million viewers over 17 days, making it the most watched event in U.S. television history. It was a similar story in Europe, where London 2012 become "the most watched Olympics in history," according to the European Broadcasting Union, with coverage on European public broadcasters easily beating out ratings from Beijing 2008 and online viewing skyrocketing to record highs.

The U.K. public broadcaster says its iPlayer usage benefited from the London Summer Olympics and popular shows "Top Gear" and "Sherlock."

LONDON -- Danny Boyle's London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony and popular shows Top Gear and Sherlock all helped boost viewing on the BBC's iPlayer video-on-demand service to record levels last year.

And much of the uptick in BBC iPlayer use can be attributed to the growing legions of tablet and smart phone users.

The BBC said Thursday there was a 177 percent year-over-year increase in the use of mobiles and tablets to watch shows on the iPlayer. Mobile and tablets accounted for more than a quarter of the 2.32 billion TV and radio program requests on the iPlayer. In total 36.5 billion minutes of BBC programming were viewed via the iPlayer in 2012.

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The public broadcaster said those numbers amounted to a whopping 34 percent increase over 2011.

The BBC said usage statistics indicate that most people with cell phones download a show at night and watch it on their way to work the next day. This surge in popularity of watching programs on the go helped to push the use of personal computers to access BBC VOD to its lowest level since the iPlayer launched in 2007. In 2012, 47 percent of requests for iPlayer content came from computers, the first time it has fallen below 50 percent.

"Last year, the use of iPlayer shifted from PCs and early adopter devices like game consoles to screens used by all audiences," said Daniel Danker, general manager of programs and on-demand at the BBC.

"Mobile, tablet, and connected TV skyrocketed, with a particular emphasis on audiences taking iPlayer on the go."

The most popular iPlayer show of 2012 was Boyle's London Olympic opening ceremony, which garnered 3.3 million requests to view.

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Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear (series 18) also proved popular, featuring seven episodes in the top 20 list. The highest was the opener, which placed second with 2.8 million views.

Sherlock managed third place, with 2.5 million views of the first episode of season two, "A Scandal in Belgravia."