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ABS-CBN’s web TV business gains traction

ABS-CBN Corporation reported that its video-streaming website iWantv is rapidly gaining popularity, the latest sign that internet TV is gaining relevance in the age of more reliable internet speeds and mobile.

From 306,000 users in end-2011, ABS-CBN Interactive Digital Media head Ralph Menorca said that iWantv now boasts having 1.9 million subscribers as of March.

In terms of consumption, its subscriber base viewed 131.4 million minutes worth of video, up 12% than 117.4 million minutes in February – an average of 4.2 million minutes of video viewed each day.

Research firm Effective Measure also crunched the numbers and found that iWantv was the top locally published website last month, generating 36.3 million views.

This is a 10% improvement from 32.9 million views in February. Unique visitor numbers is pegged at 2.7 million, 15% higher than the comparable month.

And where people are, marketers are sure to follow, said Menorca. While he didn’t disclose details, he said “inquiries from advertisers are already increasing as the private sector takes notice of the potential of “internet TV.”

Menorca said that iWantv’s continued growth can be attributed to a growing demand for show reruns, which he calls as “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.

Case in point, ABS-CBN’s afternoon drama “Be Careful With My Heart” was the most viewed show on the site with 3.9 million page views in March. This is followed by “Ina Kapatid Anak” with 1.4 million page views, based on Google Analytics.

On the back of booming smartphone and tablet sales reported in many studies like GfK in September, Menorca mentioned that an iWantv app is in the works to grow its subscriber base further.

The biggest threat to ABS-CBN’s Internet TV business so far, ABS-CBN Interactive managing director Eugene Paden revealed, is online piracy, or the illegal 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.

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