Sherlock was the most popular programme on BBC iPlayer in 2014.
The return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s sleuth was much awaited by fans, who wanted to find out how he had survived the fall of that building – so much so that the episode attracted a total of 4.2 million requests (a combination of streams and downloads) last year, the highest for any episode.
Co-Creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss joked: “Really thrilling to see Sherlock at the very top of the iPlayer ratings. We always knew he’d survive jumping off that building, but we never thought he’d fly so high!”
Top Gear, which was the most popular show over the Christmas period, was close behind, with 3.8m requests, followed by BBC Three’s Murdered By My Boyfriend, with 3m requests.
Mobile and tablet continued to dominate iPlayer growth, with a 51 per cent increase in requests from tablets (801m requests in 2014) and 32 per cent increase in requests year on year from mobiles (662m requests in 2014).
At the same time, though, BBC iPlayer also saw increasing demand to watch iPlayer TV programmes on the biggest screen in the house, with a 13% year-on-year increase in requests from Connected TVs (626m requests in 2014).
While Sherlock and Top Gear dominated top programme requests across all devices, Murdered By My Boyfriend proved particularly popular for mobile viewers, receiving 1.1 million requests on phones alone, while the last seriesof Outnumbered made the top three tablet programmes, with over 1 million requests. On smart TVs, meanwhile, The Missing topped the bill with 1.22m requests followed closely by Happy Valley (1.16m requests).
The variation perhaps indicates the types of people tuning in to catch up on BBC shows, with BBC Three’s youth-friendly content more people among those who use their phones to watch things on the go. Indeed, the BBC is increasingly embracing the potential of digital distribution to reach such audiences, building up to its proposed move of BBC Three to an online-only channel with a string of iPlayer-exclusive releases.
Demand was high for the online content with the iPlayer Original Comedy Shorts – starring comedians including Bob Mortimer, Meera Syal and Matt Berry – attracting 1.9m requests, while the Original Drama shorts Tag, Flea and My Jihad attracted 1.2m requests. One-off comedy event Frankie Boyle’s Referendum Autopsy also attracted 715,100 requests.
Whichever device you use or programme you watch, though, the increasing focus upon iPlayer’s role within the BBC’s output is certainly paying off: BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio saw a record-breaking 3.5bn programme requests combined in 2014 – up from 3.1bn in 2013, with over 2.6bn TV requests and over 860m radio requests across all devices.
Photo: Hartswood Films