Planet Earth II is the most popular show on BBC iPlayer in 2016, with the first episode alone being watched almost 4 million times.
The David Attenborough series started with a bang, as viewers were gripped by the sight of baby iguanas fleeing an army of snakes, which promptly went more viral than a clip from The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Episode 1 has been requested more than 3.8 million times at the time of publication – and with another week to watch the episode still on BBC iPlayer, that figure is only going to keep climbing. Episode 2, meanwhile, has racked up 2.7 million requests, Episode 3 2.1 million requests and Episode 4 1.4 million. Indeed, all four episodes have made it into the top 10 most-requested episodes for the month, while Episode 1 is the most popular episode on BBC iPlayer in the year so far.
That makes it all the more impressive that the second more popular episode of any show this year is not another Planet Earth instalment, but the first part of BBC Three’s Thirteen. The first major drama to premiere on the online channel, which launched at the beginning of the year, Episode 1 has racked up more than 3.2 million views to date. BBC Three’s comedy Fleabag also performed well, being requested 6.7 million times in total across all episodes in the series.
The data has also revealed that 2016 has so far been BBC iPlayer’s biggest year ever, receiving on average 243 million monthly requests. October and November saw the highest average number of daily requests BBC iPlayer has ever seen, at 11.7 million in each month.
Compare BBC Three’s figures to the most popular episodes of other shows and the online channel stacks up well, with The Great British Bake Off (the most popular show on BBC iPlayer in August, September and October) peaking at 2.3 million monthly requests for its third episode.
BBC iPlayer original Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy also drew in viewers, with 843k requests in November. Over the course of 2016, other strong performers include BBC One’s Golden-Globe nominated drama The Night Manager and the New Year Sherlock special The Abominable Bride.
It was also a big year for live viewing on BBC iPlayer, with Olympics events being streamed more than 30 million times across the summer. During Euro 2016, the England vs Wales football match had more than 2 million requests to watch the match live, becoming BBC iPlayer’s third most popular programme and most-watched live event of the year.
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, said: “The extraordinary Planet Earth II tops the most popular list in this record breaking year for BBC iPlayer. In 2016, it has enabled audiences to enjoy a range of high quality programmes when and where they want to, and find content they might otherwise have missed. From Bake Off, The Night Manager, Thirteen, Sherlock, Our Girl, Fleabag and even live football – it’s an exceptional service that we will be taking to the next level in 2017.”
The data closes out a strong year for BBC iPlayer, with 350 million TV and radio requests for programmes on BBC iPlayer and iPlayer Radio in November, on a par with October and just shy of the record-breaking figures from January 2015. There was an average of 11.7m daily requests across BBC iPlayer and iPlayer Radio in November, which is also very close to October’s data, which marked the highest ever number of daily requests on the service.
“This Christmas promises even more opportunities for viewers to watch their favourite shows from our incredible festive schedule,” adds Moore.