Virgin Media on demand view figures rise by 50 per cent

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The appetite of viewers for watching their favourite shows when they want helped lift by 50 per cent hits at Virgin Media's on demand service last year.

The cable company's video on demand (VoD) service had 750 million requests for programming, driven by programmes including X Factor and Eastenders, up by half on 2008.

Almost 60 per cent of the group's 3.7 million TV customers now use the service regularly as more shows and movies have become available, and as the public's awareness of the service has risen.

Cindy Rose, a Virgin Media executive director, said the company had "helped redefine the viewing habits of millions of people by freeing them from the TV schedule". VoD is one of the few areas that Virgin stole a march on rival Sky in pay TV, primarily because of technology limitations on its rival's satellite platform. Sky will launch an equivalent service using the broadband connection to its HD boxes later this year.

Guy Bisson, a senior analyst at Screen Digest, said: "VoD doesn't make much money but it is popular with subscribers, who tend to stick with the company. It is a good value add."