Virgin Media says 2008 was the year on demand television "came of age" with its TV viewers watching over half a billion on demand programmes.

With a record-breaking 56 million views in December alone, Virgin says its on demand's popularity has grown by over 60% in the last 12 months with over half its customers regularly using the service.

Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, said: "More and more viewers are abandoning TV schedules and choosing to watch the programmes they want, when they want. The launch of BBC iPlayer on our TV platform was a real tipping point in consumer understanding of on demand and we'll continue this success with the launch of ITV Player. As we bring the nation's favourite TV programmes to them, on the box, via PCs and on their mobiles, we are redefining how people watch TV".

As the first TV platform to offer BBC iPlayer to viewers it has notched up nearly 100 million views since the service launched in May 2008.

The BBC recently revealed that the total number of requests in the iPlayer's first year was 271 million views.

Virgin Media is soon to offer ITV's catch-up TV "ITV Player" as part of its cable service.