Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Surge in demand for online video

Alesha Dixon video on YouTube
YouTube was the second most popular site for music searches

British demand for online video sites has shot up over the past year, according to a new report.

Written by research firm Hitwise it found that UK internet traffic to video websites was up 40.7%.

YouTube is the most popular destination, followed by the BBC iPlayer and Google Video.

UK traffic to iPlayer has increased by 152.1% over the last 12 months, peaking over Christmas 2008, and is now the 22nd most visited UK website.

Hitwise's director of research, Robin Goad, told the BBC that video was now a key component of the online landscape.

"Three years ago YouTube was in its infancy and slow connections meant it wasn't a viable option for many users.

1 YouTube
2 BBC iPlayer
3 Google Video
4 MegaVideo
5 MSN Video
6 Google Video UK
7 Channel 4 TV
8 MetaCafe
9 Vuze
10 Daily Motion
Source: Hitwise

"Since then, UK traffic to video sites has increased 37-fold and if you include sites with video content - as well as dedicated video websites - that number would be even higher."

Adult content

One factor the researchers did not look at was adult content, but Mr Goad said that 18-rated content was becoming less significant as a percentage of overall internet usage.

"Towards the end of last year, social networking sites - such as Facebook and My Space - overtook adult sites in terms of popularity.

"Adult content makes up around 10%, whereas social networking sites are in excess of that.

Mr Goad said that the technology used to deliver video content had also made significant advances over the past few years. While early video content was usually streamed via Real Audio or Windows Media Player, the new flash based services made things much faster.

BBC iPlayer screen shot
The BBC's iPlayer made its public debut in July 2007

Coupled with improved broadband speeds, video now was an integral part of any website, rather than a bonus.

Hitwise said UK internet searches for iPlayer had trebled over the last 12 months, while 40% of the traffic comes from other BBC sites.

"The BBC has been promoting iPlayer on TV and via its other websites," said Mr Goad. "This has clearly been a successful strategy."

Radio listeners made up a significant proportion of iPlayer users. During February 2009, 1 in every 10 visits to the site came from a BBC Radio website, with The Archers proving to be the most searched for programme.

The survey also found video sites being used as psuedo-search engines, with YouTube being the second most popular destination for music searches after Wikipedia. The site also received twice as much traffic from music searches as MySpace.

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