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BBC iPlayer usage drops for third straight month

The BBC has defending its on-demand streaming service, after BBC iPlayer usage fell for the third consecutive month.

The catch-up service recorded 271 million TV and radio programming requests during April.

Despite easily outstripping rival services such as ITV Player and All 4, the Beeb’s impressive iPlayer figures were down on the 278 million content requests placing during Mach and the 299 million requests in February.

The much loved service has been on a steady slide since breaking records over the holiday period, racking up a staggering 343 million content requests in December alone.

Looking to stem concern in the service’s decreasing figures in a time of increased competition from the likes of Sky Go, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Dan Taylor-Watt, the BBC’s iPlayer chief, has suggested the slump is nothing more than a seasonal cycle.

BBC iPlayer usage changes significantly depending on the season with higher volumes of requests in the autumn and winter months, and lower volumes in the spring and summer,” he said.

“Also, as the majority of iPlayer consumption is still catch-up TV, there is a strong link between what’s broadcast on ‘telly’ and programmes requested on iPlayer.”

Taylor-Watt also highlighted how, despite recent monthly decreases, BBC iPlayer continues to see general growth, having risen from less than 1 billion annual requests in 2009 to more than 2.5 billion in the year ending March 31.

“Even though the iPlayer continues to grow it won’t be at such a rapid pace,” he stated. “The market has also changed significantly since iPlayer launched, with a host of new video-on-demand services now available in the UK.

“What is remarkable is how the iPlayer has not just maintained but continued to grow its usage with the increasing number of video-on-demand services.”

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Peter Kay’s Car Share was the most viewed show on iPlayer in April with the debut episode recording an impressive 1.5 million requests.

The show’s first series saw some 3.5 million requests in total and was closely followed by Poldark and Eastenders.