BBC iPlayer racks up record-breaking start to 2021
James R | On 20, Jan 2021
BBC iPlayer has racked up a record-breaking start to 2021, with its biggest week on record.
Viewing surged on BBC iPlayer in the first full week of January (4th January to 10th January), as viewers streamed 162 million programmes – including The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders. That week also saw a record 4.1 million people aged under-35 signed into their BBC account to watch BBC iPlayer – with Pretty Little Liars, The FA Cup, A Teacher, The Serpent and A Perfect Planet proving popular.
This followed a record-breaking 2020 on BBC iPlayer, which saw 5.8 billion programmes streamed between January and December, up 31 per cent year-on-year. BBC iPlayer’s growth in 2020 was accelerated by an expanded catalogue of drama, comedy, and documentary box sets and longer availability for many films.
Normal People was the biggest box set of the year, with the romantic drama getting 63.7 million streams on iPlayer across 2020. Other big dramas in 2020 included the return of Killing Eve, divorce drama The Split, forensic crime drama Silent Witness and long running sci-fi series Doctor Who. Entertainment shows such as MasterChef and Strictly Come Dancing also continued to prove popular with audiences. This Country was the biggest comedy of the year, as Kerry and Kurtan took a final bow on their Cotswold-based adventures.
Dan McGolpin, controller of BBC iPlayer, says: “More people than ever are using BBC iPlayer and they are using it more often, with a staggering 5.8 billion streams in 2020. They are finding more boxsets to choose from, a growing Ultra HD offer and a brand-new kids experience for our youngest viewers. The BBC iPlayer experience will keep getting better whatever your age and wherever you’re based, and we are already seeing 2021 breaking new records with viewers flocking to The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, the FA Cup and many more.”
Normal People remains on BBC iPlayer until April 2021. “This smart and sensual adaptation is powered by its two impressive young stars,” we wrote in our review.
Normal People leads record year on BBC iPlayer
8th December 2020
2020 has been a record year for BBC iPlayer, with Normal People leading the way.
There have been 5.3 billion requests (views or downloads) to stream content on BBC iPlayer across January to November 2020, 33 per cent up on the same period last year and already 850 million requests higher than the whole of 2019.
More than 62 million of those requests were to stream the BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People as viewers were captivated by Marianne and Connell’s evolving love story. Killing Eve has also once again been a huge hit, with 39 million requests for the third season of the spy thriller.
Other big successes of the year include new programmes such as Aussie drama The Secrets She Keeps, Mike Bartlett’s Life, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, and Scottish thriller The Nest. There were also strong performances from returning shows, including The Split and Silent Witness. Outside of drama, MasterChef continued to prove popular with viewers, and the final season of BBC Three’s This Country, telling the hilarious story of Kerry and Kurtan’s Cotswold-based escapades, was been the biggest comedy of the year.
Killing Eve’s dramatic return for Season 3 is the biggest single episode of the year so far on iPlayer, with 7.4 million requests. Normal People’s debut episode takes the second spot, with more than 6.3 million requests. The first episodes of Dracula and Roadkill also proved popular.
EastEnders has also had a strong year, with the long-running soap seeing 163 million requests in 2020 so far, in spite of an extended hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. It returned with a bang in September, and has since racked up 62 million requests. During the three months it wasn’t on air, fans were able to revisit Walford Square of times gone by on iPlayer with EastEnders 2008, plus a selection of classic episodes from the show’s past and a special look behind the scenes with Stacey Dooley.
BBC iPlayer also launched a special children’s experience during the first national lockdown, giving kids their own profile built around content from CBeebies, CBBC and other suitable BBC programmes and brands. Children’s content has been especially popular this year, with Bing, Hey Duggee, Numberblocks, In the Night Garden and Peter Rabbit all top performers.
BBC News has also had a significant year on iPlayer, as more people than ever looked to iPlayer for updates on current events. There have been over 480 million requests for News content on iPlayer across the year, up 91 per cent on January to November in 2019. The biggest single day for news content on iPlayer was 31st October, when the second national lockdown was announced, with 5.4 million requests. In contrast there were 4.6 million requests on 23rd March, the day Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown, while the reaction following the US election on 5th November resulted in 3 million requests.
In spite of many changes to live TV this year, with the Olympics, Glastonbury and the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament all rescheduled for next year, a special virtual Glastonbury and Premier League matches live on the BBC for the first time ever both drew significant audiences.