It looks as though BBC iPlayer is struggling to stay relevant as new figures show a drop-off in interest in the UK.
There were only 230 million requests to watch TV shows through iPlayer in March, a 7% drop compared to the same month last year. Overall, the service only grew by 2% year on year, marking its slowest growth so far, the Financial Times reported.
“Top Gear” was still going strong throughout most of March, so its cancellation probably isn’t the reason for the drop in figures. A sceptic at the BBC might be worried about the fall in popularity, especially considering one of its biggest costcutting measures in recent months has been to shut down BBC Three as a broadcast channel and move its programmes over to iPlayer.
But this is the first time we’ve seen such a blip, and it may not relate to a larger slump in figures.
Earlier this week the BBC announced that it was shutting down its Global iPlayer — the subscription service that allows viewers outside the UK to access most of the BBC’s programming. The BBC has said previously that fierce competition from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon reduced the growth of the service overseas.
However, a BBC statement went on to say that it was “developing plans to launch new digital services across multiple devices”, so the closure of the Global iPlayer could be part of planned development, rather than a sign of failure.
In fact, overseas access to BBC programmes will also be provided by other broadcasters, and the company could make more money by selling on its content bit by bit.
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings is actually a big iPlayer fan, and believes the service will eventually become the core of the BBC, the FT report added.
“The BBC will be the iPlayer,” he said. “They will name it the BBC Player”.
The BBC’s new technology chief Matthew Postgate has also promised to make the BBC more “internet centric”.