Report: U.K. VOD good for networks

Broadcasters shown to attract new viewers

LONDON -- Turns out that the VOD and catch-up services launched by broadcasters in the U.K. aren't eating TV networks' lunch after all. Instead, they're actually attracting new audiences.

Research published Tuesday by research firm Thinkbox shows that downloadable repeats from, British Sky Broadcasting's Sky Player, the BBC's iPlayer, Channel 4's 4OD and the Five channel's Demand Five appear "to have added incremental audiences" for the networks.

Such download or "catch-up" services have been attracting millions of downloads every month, with the most popular, the BBC iPlayer, registering upwards of 20 million downloads a month.

But Thinkbox research found that the downloads did not diminish overall television viewing, which actually grew 2% over the same period.

U.K. viewers averaged 3.8 hours a day in first-half 2008, of which 2.4 hours was spent watching commercial television, a 4% increase year over year, according to ratings agency Barb.

Thinkbox CEO Tess Alps said the report underlines the strength of broadcast television, representing "a shaft of very bright light" for TV viewing.