Top Gear finale takes pole position on BBC iPlayer
James R | On 14, Aug 2015
Top Gear’s final episode raced into pole position on BBC iPlayer this summer, helping the VOD service to rebound from a seasonal lull.
In June, the final chapter in the Clarkson, May and Hammond saga was the most popular title in the Beeb’s streaming catalogue, with 1.5m requests, significantly more than any other title – ahead of even EastEnders on 1.09m. (The Interceptor, The Syndicate, Stonemouth and Napoleon were also popular in June.)
Last month, that momentum continued. EastEnders overtook the car show with 1.12m views, but Top Gear’s final episode was in a strong second place, making it round the monthly lap with 1.04m views.
The figures confirm just how important Top Gear has been for the Beeb’s streaming platform: the show’s seasonal special was the most-watched programme on iPlayer over Christmas last year, with the first of two Patagonia episodes receiving 2.08m requests. BBC iPlayer began 2015 at a similarly fast pace, with January seeing a record 343 million TV and radio requests. Since then, though, usage of iPlayer declined, with requests falling to 299 million in February, then 278 million in March. April 2015 saw 271 million requests, its third consecutive month-on-month decline. This drop occurred as the Clarkson “fracas” took place, a scandal that saw Top Gear absent from TV screens and also iPlayer. (The BBC attributed the dip to seasonal factors, as well as the rising popularity of other VOD services.)
As the series returned for a final episode, though, iPlayer viewings bounced back. Overall, there were 250 million TV and radio requests on BBC iPlayer in July – up 2 per cent on June, despite the summer weather, which often affects TV viewing.
Indeed, because a lot of BBC iPlayer activity involves people catching up on linear TV, views tend to be higher in the autumn and winter months, although major events and schedule variations can cause “significant monthly differences”. The strength of that connection is evident in EastEnders’ year-round appeal: the show accounted for 15 out of the top 20 episodes last month.
Overall, TV requests were up 18 per cent year-on-year in July to 196m, with an additional 32m requests compared to July 2014.
In terms of major events, the Wimbledon final, broadcast on 12th July, racked up 488k views in the weeks following its broadcast. But it was still far behind The Outcast, the third most popular programme with 924k views. The drama was followed by The Next Step and Teenage Millionaire, while the first episode of the new season of Dragons Den was the sixth most popular, with 692k requests. CBBC series The Next Step was also in the top 20. Bruce Willis’ film The Jackal was the most popular movie, with 615k views.
As for the sunny weather, viewers seemed not to mind the heat wave, instead using their mobile devices to take the telly outside to catch up on their favourite telly: views from mobiles and tablets rose 9 per cent and 7 per cent month-on-month respectively. And on that bombshell, we await the August iPlayer figures with interest.
Photo: BBC Worldwide Ltd – Photographer: BBC