Decipher’s VOD Report March 2013: Sky takes the lead in catch up, but Netflix has the most video on demand (VOD)

Decipher have completed the March 2013 edition of the VOD Report. The VOD Report is our quarterly audit of VOD on the major UK DTV platforms and OTT services. It is delivered as a detailed report which maps out the most important headlines, trends and changes through a series of graphs, charts and tables.

One of the key changes in the landscape of UK VOD in the last 6 months has been the introduction, and then the rapid growth, of catch up content on Sky. This was historically an area that Sky was weak in and its growth has been driven by the success of the players on Virgin, YouView and FreeSat boxes as well as the multitude of other, non-broadcast devices where you can access catch up content such such as Smart TVs and Xbox. It has grown from a small amount of ITV content, to including catch up from all of the UK’s free-to-air broadcasters, as well as content from Sky’s own channels and others such as History and the Crime & Investigation Network.

This continued expansion of Sky’s catch up proposition succeeded this quarter in making Sky’s catch up service the most comprehensive in the UK. This is true whether measured by number of channels or total unique assets. Whilst one of YouView’s major selling points is the presence of all of the free-to-air catch up players, our analysis shows that a large amount of content on the 4oD and Demand 5 apps was in fact archive TV shows rather than 30 day catch up.

However, all is not rosy for Sky; our quarterly tracker, MediaBug, also shows that Sky’s catch up service is the least used when compared to YouView and Virgin’s Tivo – our view is that this is due in part to lack of promotions and awareness within the Sky base, its somewhat hidden nature on the user interface and the late arrival of the service. Clearly Sky are caught between a rock and a hard place favouring promoting pay channels over the free to air players. So adding in the Sky channel catch up is a sensible value re-enforcing move.


In terms of overall VOD assets, Netflix is in the lead, followed by Virgin Media and Blinkbox. Since its UK launch this time last year, Netflix has steadily increased its content library each quarter. Whilst you may not be able to find the latest blockbusters on there, and whilst the content in general may not be as up-to-date as that on Sky, Virgin or Blinkbox, the sheer quantity of movies and (especially) TV shows puts the US-based service out in front. Whilst Virgin is in second place with well over 13,500 VOD assets, some closer analysis shows that this is largely due to the presence of a huge array of music on demand, some 5,500 assets.


This March was the first time the VOD Report included data from the YouView platforms – both BT Vision and TalkTalk. The content from YouView combined with that available on the BT Vision player is broadly in line with the amount which has been available in the past on BT Vision’s own ‘Vision+’ set top box. In the case of TalkTalk, their VOD offering is significantly helped by the presence of the YouView catch up players, which bring their proposition on YouView to something which is in the same ballpark as that of the other platforms.


There were also a number of exciting findings around the average release date for movies on the DTV platforms, as well as concerning how much movie content on each service actually comes from the major six movie studios. In terms of headline figures, it is Blinkbox which has the biggest movie offering, just ahead of Sky both with over 3,000 movie assets. Recency is clearly correlated to access to the post cinematic pay-per-view window for movies. The subscription approach favoured by Netflix and Lovefilm will always mean older content until the classic movie windowing approach changes. Whilst Lovefilm offers almost as many movies (just under 3,000), they have far fewer from recent years.

These snippets are just a selection of the findings which came out of the March 2013 VOD Report. If you would like more information you can contact Matt McNally at

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