BBC iPlayer bucks downward trend with strong May
James R | On 25, Jun 2015
BBC iPlayer bucked its downward with a strong May that saw a rebound in traffic.
Viewings on the BBC’s catch-up service had fallen for three months in a row in April 2015, after reaching a record high in January. The BBC dismissed concerns about a decline in popularity, citing both competition from other streaming sites, such as Netflix, and the seasonal patterns that occur among audiences: indeed, every spring and summer, iPlayer has always seen traffic dip, as people spend more time away from the TV sets and, as a result, less time catching up with what’s being shown. Major events, such as the World Cup, can help to boost activity, but when it comes to the war between summer and the living room, fresh air normally wins.
In May 2015, though, BBC iPlayer saw its total TV requests jump to 222 million
This 2 per cent increase month-on-month marked a turnaround from the seasonal slide. TV requests were up 10 per cent (20 million) year-on-year, its highest May ever.
Activity was dominated by Peter Kay’s Car Share, which premiered online ahead of its TV broadcast during April 2015. Audiences were clearly fond of the sitcom, continuing to watch past the initial episode: the first five episodes appeared in the top 20 episodes for May, while the first four episodes were in the top five. Episode 2 was the most watched, with 1.45 million requests, ahead of Episode 3 (1.42 million).
The BBC’s new documentary series Shark also proved popular (1.3 million), along with coverage of The Election 2015. Indeed, alongside the actual election itself (1.25 million), the seasonal focus on politics also fuelled interest in Have I Got News for You (763k) and Charlie Brooker’s Election Wipe (583k), both of which appeared in the top 20 programmes.
Other popular content included The C Word (1.77m – third most-watched), EastEnders (fourth most-wathed) and the first episode of new drama series The Game (960k – fifth most watched).
The Eurovision Song Contest (692k) and the first episodes of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (689k) made up the top 10, while the importance of movies was demonstrated by the 705k requests for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which was broadcast on the BBC on Wednesday 6th May – a rare example of a film appearing in the top 20 programmes.
There were an average of 8.9m requests daily during May 2015, down from 9m in April 2015 but up slightly from 8.8m in May 2014. With the sun set to come out for another two months, though, can the BBC continue to buck seasonal trends for the rest of the summer?