Demand for digital video, especially Steamed Video On Demand (SVOD), is quietly reshaping the way we use the internet. Consider this, video content currently accounts for 70 percent of all web traffic, and this is estimated to hit 90 percent by 2020, according to a Cisco’s widely used forecast.
And as the on-demand TV revolution build up pace, Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Amazon and BBC iPlayer have been sending shockwaves throughout the broadcast world as they gain millions of new users each year. For quite some time, BBC’s iPlayer has been a major asset to the corporation, but BBC is now also looking to become a Netflix-style destination of choice for those looking to watch original content in its own right. In the UK, BBC iPlayer currently enjoys phenomenal brand awareness, coming third on the YouGov BrandIndex’s list of top brands. As of 2015, about 33 percent of the UK population used BBC iPlayer.
By producing, then airing more of their in-house award winning content, Netflix, the world’s market leader is now watched in 15 percent of UK homes, while Amazon’s market share stands at about 5 percent. What’s more, new technologies that allow us to watch what we want on whatever we want have emerged to transform the average person’s traditional TV viewing habits. In the past, the main stumbling block for SVOD services as that one could only watch the programmed in a desktop or a laptop, which means that the programs were not ideal for whole family viewing.
Fortunately, internet enabled TVs have slowly bridged the gap, and this coupled with new technologies such as Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire Stick have made it possible for viewers to wirelessly beam content to their TVs from any web-enabled devise with relative ease.
But as you would expect, the Achilles heel of using these SVODs is internet bandwidth or a lack of it. As of 2016, average download speeds in the UK are stuck at around 23 Mbps, which means that you can expect, jerky, stuttering video when viewing SVOD on more than one device at a time on a single connection. When you out the number of all connected devices in an average UK home, all fighting for a share of the bandwidth, speeds of 100 Mbps are needed for SVOD to continue its rapid growth.
Most SVOD services offer tablet and mobile apps that allow you to access their content on the move. It is this functionality that makes the most use of the Smartphone apps and the improved hardware and screens that the latest of these mobile devices are equipped with. The apps let you stream content live or download them to offline storage for viewing later on. This gives them a clear advantage over live TV since it is currently impossible to receive digital satellite signals on any mobile device.
Since the United Kingdom is very well connected through broadband and 4G mobile signal, it is very easy for anyone to connect to the internet while on the move and access speeds quick enough to stream high definition SVOD films and shows.
Fibre broadband is also becoming more common throughout the UK and Virgin Media has become one of the first companies to roll out 200 mb connection to select places in the United Kingdom. Thanks to this, more people can now easily access high-quality 4K and Ultra HD content. Amazon offers 4K content via its Amazon Fire TV, a first.
People are getting hungrier for video, and content companies are only too happy t feed them. This means that text, which for long has been the de facto means of web communication is slowly shrinking insignificant. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO has already said as much, proclaiming the Social Network’s future lies in video. As mentioned before, buffering and lag are the biggest drawbacks to watching live video content over the web. This can be particularly frustrating when watching Live events such as sports as you may miss some valuable action due to a dip in the broadband connection. The good thing is that broadband speeds are always improving and it won’t be long before this becomes a problem of the past, particularly when it comes to standard definition content.
As things stand, SVOD platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and BBC iPlayer are mostly considered a complementary form of viewing, as UK audiences primarily use them to access US TV shows and films. They face fierce competition for cable and mainstream channels which have also started to offer their own new digital services.