YouGov poll highlights potential saturation point for film services and lack of UltraViolet awareness.

A new YouGov poll indicates that the UK market for content on demand film services may be reaching saturation point.

The study, which spoke to 3,660 consumers, revealed that while 33% of the online population in the UK have used digital film services in the last three months - with the most popular services being LoveFilm (27%), Sky Movies (19%), Netflix (12%) and YouTube* (10%) - among those who have not used on-demand services, only 5% plan to start watching film on demand in the next 12 months.

Around 83% said they are unlikely to access such services in the next 12 months.

In that context, market researcher YouGov has suggested that instead of looking for new audiences to generate growth and revenue, online film services “should shift strategies and look to maximise what they get from existing customers”.

Shaun Austin, associate director for media consulting at YouGov, said: “Among converts there is clearly a huge appetite for content on-demand film services in the UK. However, those who don’t currently access content have a limited interest in doing so in the future.

“Therefore, the focus for digital content providers needs to be on working out ways to get the most out of the existing current user base rather than expanding into new audiences.

“As newspaper paywalls demonstrate, this will not be easy. The popularity of YouTube and iPlayer show that the services that are used most are usually the services that are free.

“For providers looking to grow their businesses the challenge will be convincing current users that they offer services worth paying for and services like Spotify in digital music point to the direction companies might want to explore in the coming years.”

Piracy remains a key problem, particularly among the young with internet users aged 12-15 that are consistently more likely to have downloaded unauthorised content. The survey also showed they are also less likely to understand the consequences of accessing content illegally.

There are also low level awareness of cloud-based licensing system UltraViolet, according to the study, with only 15% of those polled having heard of it. However, those who had used it said they were likely to use it again.

The online survey is YouGov’s first content-on-demand study, which will assess the market every six months.

The study spoke to British adults and young people aged 12 and above. Fieldwork was undertaken from Feb 14-21.

*YouGov told Screen that those who said they watched films on YouTube were often referring to free movies and only a small proportion of respondents say they had paid for movies on YouTube. The study also showed low levels of recognition and usage of Google Play Movies.