UK traffic to the BBC’s iPlayer website increased 14-fold between the week ending 08 December 2007 and the week ending 05 January.

According to online reports, the internet TV service ranked as the 80th most visited website in the UK for the week ending 05 January 2008, having peaked at number 62 on New Year’s Day.

In fact, searches for "iPlayer" have increased by 15x over the last month, and one-fifth of the site’s traffic came from search engines last week.

But the iPlayer is also being accessed through searches for specific TV shows such as Eastenders, which was the most popular non-navigational search term sending traffic to the site over the last month.

Other popular program searches were Live at the Apollo, Three men in another boat and Holby City.

The BBC has also been promoting iPlayer online, and over half of traffic to the site for the week ending 05 January came from other BBC websites.

The official websites for Eastenders and Doctor Who were the program-specific BBC websites sending most traffic to iPlayer.

However, analysts say that the BBC iPlayer is still some way behind the current online video market leader YouTube.

For the week ending 05 January, YouTube accounted for 8.75% of all UK Internet visits to Entertainment websites, over 12 times the market share of iPlayer (although the iPlayer figure only accounts for users viewing content directly via the iPlayer website and excludes content viewed via the iPlayer downloadable application).

YouTube is also currently the fourth most searched for term in the UK across the whole of the Internet.

There were 96 times as many searches for YouTube as for iPlayer, and 167 times as many as for 4od, Channel Four’s online TV catch up service in the week ending 05 January

However, experts are predicting that services like iPlayer could knock YouTube off its top spot.

The average visit time for iPlayer is currently just under nine minutes, compared with almost 20 minutes for YouTube.

This relatively low visit time for iPlayer suggests that people are currently in the testing or discovery phase for these new services; but average visit times will only increase, just as it did with YouTube.

And their impact may come because of the wider demographic they attract.

Sites such as iPlayer tend to be more popular with older users than YouTube, which has a very young fan base.