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Third of UK population watching on-demand programming

More than a third of UK consumers are regularly watching TV on demand, double last year's figure, according to a survey by broadband company Tiscali.

The study, Tiscali TV Trends 2008, found that 37% of UK consumers regularly watched on-demand content, up from 17% in 2006, while 86% of the people who watched TV on demand in 2007 were viewing as many or more programmes than they did 12 months previously.

Meanwhile, 64% of those polled said traditional TV scheduling restricted their viewing habits, while lack of choice and rigid programming schedules were also cited as reasons for people increasing their on-demand viewing.

The report noted that despite the range of web TV services that launched last year, including BBC iPlayer,, Joost and 4oD, the majority of viewers (62%) preferred watching on-demand content through their TV.

The results emerged after the BBC revealed yesterday that 3.5m programmes were downloaded using the BBC iPlayer in the two weeks after its launch on Christmas Day. The most popular programmes during the two-week period were 'Doctor Who', 'Top Gear' and 'Extras'.

Tiscali said 58% of people considered catching up on missed programmes as the main reason for using TV on demand, while 49% cited greater flexibility in viewing habits, and 39% listed avoiding schedule clashes.

However, the report noted that the perceived costs and difficulty of on-demand TV were key factors dissuading people from using the medium, with 57% stating it as too expensive, while 39% said they "didn't know they could do it".

However, 79% of UK consumers predicted there would be no TV schedules by 2018, as people embrace flexible TV programming online more.

Neal McCleave, managing director of media services at Tiscali UK, said: "There is a growing demand among the British population for flexibility in their media consumption.

"As broadcasters worry about the fragmentation of the media audience, they need to look to on-demand television which is proving itself capable of retaining audience share and growing viewing times."

The Tiscali study, which was conducted by Tickbox, polled a representative sample of 1,760 adults about their TV online viewing habits in December 2007.

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