BBC breaks record for ‘festive fortnight’ ratings

The BBC has seen record-breaking year-on-year growth of BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds over the holidays, as more people consumed its content, digitally.

On BBC iPlayer, gripping new dramas, The Serpent and Black Narcissus, the Christmas antics in Albert Square and Nonnatus House in EastEnders and Call The Midwife – together with the adventures of Spider-Man: Homecoming helped smash BBC iPlayer records for viewing this Christmas, with iPlayer seeing 245 million streams* over the holidays (21 December 2020 – 3 January 2021) – up by 16 per cent on the ‘festive fortnight’ last year.

New Year’s Day was the biggest day in that time, with 21.2 million streams, the most popular New Year ever on iPlayer (up +18 per cent year-on-year), when viewers enjoyed a range of content – including the box set of the thrilling new real-life crime-drama, The Serpent, which early data suggests will become one of the BBC’s biggest binged dramas of the year.

There were also 7.93 million unique browsers on New Year’s Day – breaking the record for unique browsers visiting iPlayer in a single day. This beats the 7.8 million set on 31 October 2020 – when further lockdown restrictions in England were announced.

On BBC Sounds, there were more than 45 million plays in the same fortnight, an increase of 36% compared to last year.

The most popular podcasts were Grounded with Louis Theroux (the fortnight saw new episodes with Ruby Wax and Frankie Boyle), Newscast and new sci fi drama The Cipher starring Anya Chalotra and Chance Perdomo. Listeners tuned in to the Today programme and this year’s Christmas guest editors; it was the most listened to radio programme on BBC Sounds, followed by Ken Bruce and Radio 1’s Anthems. Many listeners also enjoyed A Promised Land by Barack Obama over Christmas and New Year.

The Christmas Mixes sound tracked the festive fortnight and were the most popular music mixes on BBC Sounds. People next most enjoyed the nostalgia of Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton and the popular Mindful Mix, a new mix was designed to help ease listeners into the new year with soothing soundscapes and calm piano.

On BBC iPlayer, the dramatic Christmas Day episode of EastEnders topped the tree of most popular episodes over the holidays, with over 1.5 million streams in the festive fortnight.

The series itself was the most popular programme over the whole period, with more than 13.8 million streams.

A new range of unmissable dramas including Black Narcissus and The Serpent also proved hugely popular – as well as Call the Midwife’s Christmas Special and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

These, together with the Christmas Specials of Mrs Brown’s Boys andGavin and Stacey, festive footwork in Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor’s Who’s now traditional New Year’s Day adventure, topped the most streamed programmes on iPlayer throughout the festive period.

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer said: “The unparalleled range of programmes on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds delivered a record breaking Christmas this year.

“More people chose a personalised version of the BBC and sought out content on a scale we’ve not seen before from the breadth of entertainment and escapism available.”

Damon Johnathan
Reporter
Author, Stylist, Water Protector, Apropos of Nothing, Unregulated Banker. I drop my phone on my face when texting laying down.

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