BBC iPlayer suffers setback with first ever dip in popularity

The BBC’s seemingly unstoppable iPlayer service may have encountered its first growth hitch following a surprise 7 per cent decline in streaming requests in March versus a year earlier.

It is the first such reversal to be recorded by the service since its launch in 2007, during which it has gone from strength to strength as an online video pioneer.

The decline brought the number of unique requests over the month down to just 230m, with overall growth in the first quarter slipping to 2 per cent, also its slowest on record.

Commenting on the news the BBC said that its iPlayer service ‘continues to perform strongly’, blaming the apparent slowdown on ‘variations of factors’.

These numbers contrast sharply with rival streaming services which continue to experience a boom, despite the presence of heavyweight brands such as Top Gear and The Voice, amidst fears that consumers are favouring short form content found on the likes of YouTube and Facebook over broadcast length material.

Just this week the BBC announced it would close its Global iPlayer service in June to focus on distributing its content via traditional broadcasters.