European VOD market growing rapidly


BRUSSELS --There were 258 video-on-demand services in operation in Europe at the end of last year, up from 142 at the end of December 2006, according to comprehensive new figures released Tuesday on the fast-growing sector.

The figures, published by the Strasbourg-based European Audiovisual Observatory, examined 24 European countries. It reveals a dramatic rise in VOD services from 40 at the end of 2005, and just 14 at the end of 2004.

France, with 32 services, remains the country with the highest level of VOD provision. It is followed by the Netherlands (with 30 services), Germany (26), Sweden (16) and the U.K. (16).

The report says that 74% of the services are delivered via the Internet, 26% are available as part of IPTV packages and 10% come with cable packages. Only a small proportion of VOD services are delivered via satellite or on digital terrestrial television.

The EAO explains the upsurge by the fact that television channels generally now have websites offering free catch-up TV, giving viewers access to certain programs, notably episodes of series, for a period of several days after their transmission.

The report says there are 62 catch-up TV services in Europe delivered on the Internet, compared with 11 services on IPTV, eight on cable, two via satellite and one on DTT. Initially, almost all catch-up TV was offered on Internet, but cable and DSL operators have now begun to include it on their networks.