Peter Kay’s Car Share helped to drive BBC iPlayer to a strong April.
Use of the Beeb’s catch-up service traditionally declines in the second quarter of the year, as views drop off in March, April, May and June. This spring, though, has seen more activity than normal, thanks to the return of Doctor Who, Line of Duty and Car Share’s second season.
The three series made up the entirety of the top 10 most-requested episodes in April 2017, with each episode of Car Share in the top five most popular episodes that month. In total, each chapter received more than 2 million requests per episode, while Line of Duty’s first five episodes each received more than 1.4 million requests.
Doctor Who’s response was also popular, with more than 1 million episodes for the first episode in his 10th season. EastEnders also saw a very strong performance, with 10 episodes appearing in the top 20. As a result, requests were up by 23 per cent year-on-year, reaching 274 million overall.
April follows on from a similarly strong March, with three-part psychological drama The Replacement finding a sizeable audience: all three episodes were the three most popular episodes on iPlayer that month, with Episode 1 and 2 achieving over 2 million requests each. Top Gear performed well too, with the first episode racing to over 1 million requests. New BBC Three series Clique received 1.08 million requests, making it iPlayer’s eighth most popular programme. Red Nose Day Episode 2, which contained the Love Actually sequel Red Nose Day Actually, received 1.1 million requests. To put that in perspective, all of those compare very favourably to SS-GB’s third episode, which drew in 644,000 requests in March, or the first episode of Versailles’ second season, which drew 565,000 requests in April – the difference between a runaway success and an average drama.
BBC Three, which does not have the boosted profile of a primetime broadcast on a Sunday night, continues to find an audience too, with Clique’s fifth episode receiving 680,000 requests in April, while Stacey Dooley Investigates Young Sex for Sale in Japan received 760,000 requests in March.
iPlayer’s strong performance arrives at a time when the BBC is pushing the platform heavily, with users now required to register for an account so that the service can be personalised to them, providing them with more relevant recommendations to encourage more streaming, and cross-device pause-and-resume to retain users in an increasingly competitive landscape. Car Share and Line of Duty, though, are a reminder that content is still king.