LONDON: Consumers in the UK spend more than 200m hours watching online video every month, according to new figures.

Experian Hitwise, the research firm, reported that the number of visits to internet video platforms in September rose by 36% year on year, to 785m in all.

Some 86% of the UK's online audience access sites in this category at least once a month, with the average user logging on 18 times, and to three different providers, in the same period.

In total, 3.4bn hours are dedicated to the internet each month by UK consumers, with social networks taking 800m hours, and web video posting 240m hours.

"There are now more visits to video websites every month than to email providers, travel or sports sites, which represents a huge opportunity to the savvy marketer," said James Murray, marketing research Analyst at Experian Hitwise.

YouTube is by far the most popular website in the sector, accounting for 184m hours of online usage time and 70% of all video sessions.

Indeed, YouTube receives one of every 35 internet visits in the UK, meaning it is the country's fastest-growing social media service. Its amount of visitors from smartphones and tablets has also surged, making up roughly 10% of YouTube hits.

Search terms related to music - for example artists or specific songs - are responsible for a third of searches that send web users to video sites, with TV content on 17%, aided by the rising uptake of the BBC iPlayer.

Films scored 11% on this metric, with gaming on 10% and news on 9%, Experian Hitwise revealed.

More broadly, the entertainment category, of which video properties form a part, took 13.7% of online visits in the UK during September 2011.

As such, it reclaimed the lead from social networks and forums, on 12.8%, and had grabbed the top spot on this measure earlier in 2011.

Data sourced from Hitwise; additional content by Warc staff