Five overhauls TV-on-demand platform

Five has overhauled TV-on-demand platform Demand Five as part of a major play to position itself as a destination site for catch-up TV and boost its ad inventory.

Channel Five

The broadcaster told new media age the new site, which will launch in beta on 21 September, will be rolled out in two phases. The first will integrate Facebook ’like’ buttons next to video content. This means when a user clicks ’like’ on a video they’ve been watching, it will be pulled onto their Facebook wall.

For the full launch on 1 November the site will integrate with the Facebook Graph API, allowing users to log in to their Facebook account from within Demand Five.

“This lowers the barriers to entry massively,” said Five’s digital controller Chris Kerwin.

The new platform will tie together Demand Five and programme support site, providing a single portal containing both short- and long-form content. Five said the merger will boost user engagement and dwell time, in turn increasing video views and ad impressions.

Kerwin said one of the main incentives for overhauling the site was to increase ad opportunities around VOD inventory. “We’re constantly sold out each month and have been for some time,” he said.

“By linking our short- and long-form video content together, our views should go up, so we should have more inventory,” he added.

Last week Web TV Enterprise’s UK Online Video Advertising Market report found a third of the 150 media buyers surveyed said they include VOD advertising in more than 75% of their media strategies, while 60% said over half of their plans include it.

However, 30% of media buyers cited a lack of research proving the effectiveness of VOD as a barrier to further investment, while 35% said their clients were the barrier.

Joseph Leon, partner and head of media at media agency Essence, said lack of inventory is affecting all advertisers in the video space, and that “pricing elasticity is almost entirely absent” as a result.

“It’s a case of limited inventory combined with growing demand and limited pricing flexibility,” he said.

Charlie McGee, MD of media agency Carat, agreed there’s a dearth of VOD inventory and that anything a broadcaster does to create better and more targeted opportunities is “brilliant”. However, he added that premium content will remain key to buyers’ decisions when it comes to buying VOD space.

So far the BBC and Five are leading the charge when it comes to social integration. The BBC’s revamped iPlayer, which came out of beta earlier this month, now integrates with Facebook and Twitter, letting viewers share and recommend shows.

It will also incorporate a Microsoft Windows Live Messenger function in the coming months, to will let users chat while they’re watching shows, and sync them with what their friends are watching on the iPlayer.

VOD platforms that integrate with social networks can lead to better consumer targeting, which appeals to digital buyers, said Leon. “If someone partners with Facebook, then that will reach other audiences, which will unlock other inventory,” he added.

Five worked with agencies Unboxed Consulting and Method on the creative for the new Demand Five site; the latter was also used by the BBC for its revamped iPlayer.

Five is on the lookout for a launch sponsor for the site, for which opportunities will include pre-roll and display ads, reskins of the Demand Five player, and a campaign site.

Last month a survey by Lightspeed Research on behalf of new media age revealed that over half of TV viewers also catch-up online.

The survey, which sampled 4,378 people’s internet TV viewing habits, showed two-thirds (62%) find ads on VOD services intrusive, with 55% saying they’d prefer any ads to be at the end of the programme.

Three-fifths (58%) had streamed or downloaded TV within the last six months, with 45% watching TV content at least once a week.

The BBC iPlayer was the most popular platform, with 86% of people having used it, followed by ITV Player (43%), 4oD (36%), YouTube (34%) and Demand Five (15%).

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