Following the very strong figures of 2013 and even stronger start to the current calendar year, the BBC iPlayer appears to have hit its peak for a while in terms of viewer count on the catch-up service, after it was revealed that the number of ‘view requests’ in April dropped to 257 million for April.
While requests for live coverage of the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a large draw for the streaming platform in the month, it was not enough to prevent the lowest overall view count since December 2012, leading off from the joint-record 272m recorded in March. The BBC, however, claim that the iPlayer is performing well in spite of the circumstances, as Easter holidays and more daylight were recognized as likely and predictable reasons for such a decline.
The Margaret Thatcher funeral, however, bucked the trend for April when it became the ‘second most-requested live TV broadcast’ in the iPlayer’s history with 832,000 live viewers (of a total ’+catch-up’ audience of 986,000), beaten only by events at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Breaking down the overall figures, it was recognized that average ‘daily requests’ on iPlayer hit 7.9m, while 57m per week were recorded in April’s second and third weeks. Mobile and tablet users, meanwhile, were collectively responsible for 75 million views, representing 30% of the total figures.
The presence of the BBC’s iPlayer Radio platform also had a strong month, rising to a service record of 74 million requests in one month (an increase of 3% on the 72 million of March), although 84% of those were ‘live’ listeners. In a further development for the spin-off service, the broadcaster has announced that users will soon be able to download radio shows available on iPlayer, with similar ’30 day’ content restrictions as applied to the free videos offered by iPlayer.
With listeners currently only able to stream radio for up to 7 days post-broadcast (excluding BBC podcasts), the BBC Trust have confirmed plans to launch radio downloads in 2014.
A BBC spokesman summarised of the move, expected to cost £150,000 due to implementing a new digital rights management (DRM) system: “We are delighted with the Trust’s decision. We will now start work to bring download functionality to BBC iPlayer Radio, a process which we anticipate will take some months yet.”
With up to 7,600 hours of radio content each week due to become available for download, is iPlayer’s first spin-off set to become even more evenly-matched in numbers with its big brother following these developments?
Radio streaming on the BBC iPlayer continues to grow, with a record-breaking 74 million requests in April, up 3% on March’s 72 million requests.