A fragmented video-on-demand (VoD) market, combined with overpriced content, is pushing viewers towards illegal downloads, according to new research.

VoD State of Play by Essential Research found that fragmented delivery technologies, confusing rights restrictions and expensive download charges were driving viewers away from legitimate VoD services.

Currently, eight out of 10 PC VoD users only use legitimate services occasionally, although 24% claim that they now watch more TV than before.

Meanwhile, 26% of PC VoD users said they used peer-to-peer or torrents to download video content, while 42% of illegal VoD users admitted that “watching programmes that are not scheduled in the UK” was a key driver. US shows such as Lost, Gossip Girl and Prison Break are often watched illegally online.

Price was also a major factor - 75% of VoD users said that on-demand services should cost less than the equivalent DVD.

The report, published ahead of the Competition Commission's ruling on the multi-broadcaster Project Kangaroo platform, also found that many viewers kept their use of VoD to a minimum, while others were turning to illegal download sites.

However, the research identified strong consumer demand for a TV-based VoD service and said viewers are willing to accept advertising to help make this a reality.

It also predicted that once barriers to TV-based VoD were resolved, “a seismic shift” in the way TV was consumed would take place.