More Pinoys watching TV on Internet, says ABS-CBN

A growing number of Filipinos here and abroad now consume television content online, as shown by the increasing popularity of ABS-CBN’s video-streaming websites iWantv and TFC.tv.

Data for the month of March show that iWantv is the top locally published website based on local traffic in the country, according to ad network firm Effective Measure (EM).

iWantv has generated 36.3 million views and attracted 2.7 million unique visitors in the Philippines viewing the latest and recent episodes of ABS-CBN’s top rating programs.

This represents a 10-percent growth from 32.9 million views and a 15-percent increase in unique visitors from February.

The top show in iWantvis the noontime light drama “Be Careful with My Heart” with 3.9 million pageviews, followed by the primetime series “Ina Kapatid Anak” with 1.4 million page views, based on Google Analytics.

The total number of minutes of video viewed in March reached 131.4 million minutes or a 12-percent increase from 117.4 million minutes in February. This translates to average of 4.2 million minutes of video viewed per day.

Offshore, global Filipinos have been subscribing to the “Global Digital Tambayan for Filipinos” – TFC.tv (formerly TFC Now) to watch their favorite Kapamilya programs.

ABS-CBN Interactive Digital Media head Ralph Menorca said iWantv’s success lies on the site’s ability to reach a previously untapped market for television companies.

“iWantv caters to people on the go, who normally can’t catch the programs on schedule, and who want to watch their favorite shows at their own time. If you missed it on TV, you can watch it over the Internet,” he said.

The Lopez-owned firm said the future looks bright for iWantv and TFC.tv as more consumers develop the habit of watching their favorite TV programs online as broadband services, smartphones, and devices become more affordable.

By 2015, experts estimate that the number of subscribers in the country availing of wireless broadband services through mobile devices would balloon to 31.5 million or six times more than the five million broadband users as of end-2011.

Meanwhile, there are about eight million smartphones and tablets in the country today with access to wireless data services from their respective networks.

Market analysts see the number growing through 2015 with the devices’ increased functionality and declining prices as low-cost Android-enabled mobile phones, mid-range tablets, and cheap brands already in the market.

TFC.tv is already taking advantage of the worldwide broadband and mobile device boom with the launching of a TFC.tv app for Apple products such as iPhone and iPad.

Menorca said the iWantv app will soon be available in the Philippines as 20-25 percent of iWantv users use mobile devices to view the site.

ABS-CBN began distributing television content via the Internet –globally called “Internet TV” — as early as eight years ago, to address the busy and irregular schedule of overseas Filipino workers.

ABS-CBN Interactive managing director and TFC.tv general manager Eugene Paden said TFC.tv was launched to allow Filipinos abroad, especially those who are working, may catch up on the programs back home and still feel connected with the family and friends they left behind.

“It puts the power of entertainment to the customer and enable them to be part of a community,” Paden added. “When you watch TV online, you are able to comment, to relate with the rest of the world. We give them a venue to connect with others, to have an outlet.”

The biggest threat to ABS-CBN’s Internet TV so far, Paden revealed, is online piracy, or the illegal and unofficial uploading of ABS-CBN content to video-sharing and video-streaming websites.

“We do several things to address this by offering better quality videos, additional features, being consistent in uploading videos and providing complete content to our subscribers. We also go after the pirated sites, we take them down,” he explained.

Piracy aside, Menorca said Internet TV is here to stay with more Filipinos enjoying the benefit of being able to enjoy “TV everywhere.”

“From 306,000 users by the end of 2011, we now have 1.9 million registered iWantv subscribers by end-March and counting,” he said. He added inquiries from advertisers are already mounting with the private sector taking notice of the potential of Internet TV.

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