Advanced Television

Bodyguard 2018’s most-requested iPlayer show  

January 31, 2019

Award-winning British dramas Bodyguard, Killing Eve and McMafia have been revealed as the top programmes requested on BBC iPlayer in 2018.

The most popular show of the year was Bodyguard, with the first episode becoming BBC iPlayer’s biggest ever programme, with 10.8 million requests across the year. All six episodes of the political thriller appear in iPlayer’s top ten programmes of the year.

Smash hit Killing Eve came a close second with 9.2 million requests for episode one, followed by global crime thriller McMafia, with 4.7 million requests.

Overall in 2018 3.6 billion programmes were requested on iPlayer throughout the year.

BBC iPlayer’s top ten programmes (per series) in 2018 were:

  Programme Episode Requests
1 Bodyguard Episode 1 10,842,000
2 Killing Eve Nice Face 9,235,000
3 McMafia Episode 1 4,741,000
4 Doctor Who The Woman Who Fell to Earth 3,965,000
5 Keeping Faith Episode 1 3,927,000
6 The Cry Episode 1 3,496,000
7 Dynasties Chimpanzee 3,447,000
8 Our Girl Nigeria, Belize & Bangladesh Tours
Episode 1
9 Bing Show 3,177,000
10 MOTD Live Sweden v England 3,153,000

BBC iPlayer’s top ten programmes (per episode) of the year were:

  Programme Episode Requests
1 Bodyguard Episode 1 10,842,000
2 Killing Eve Nice Face 9,235,000
3 Bodyguard Episode 2 7,298,000
4 Bodyguard Episode 3 7,120,000
5 Bodyguard Episode 4 6,548,000
6 Bodyguard Episode 5 5,898,000
7 Killing Eve I’ll Deal With Him Later 4,943,000
8 Killing Eve Don’t I Know You? 4,846,000
9 Bodyguard Episode 6 4,845,000
10 Killing Eve Sorry Baby 4,839,000

Across the year, BBC iPlayer added new and classic box sets as part of its experimentation to make programmes available for longer than 30 days. Live restart via the green button was also introduced as well as both the World Cup and Wimbledon being brought to viewers in Ultra-High Definition for the first time.

“In 2018, we saw people who use iPlayer increasing the amount of time that they spend watching programmes on it,” advised Dan McGolpin, Controller of Programming for the BBC. “Over the last 12 months, viewers have enjoyed an increased number of box sets, along with other upgrades such as a selection of live Ultra HD programmes and increased personalisation. In a fiercely competitive market, with global streaming companies investing more and more in content, the challenge for 2019 is how to ensure that audiences can enjoy the full range and breadth of BBC programmes on iPlayer.” 

December saw a total of 298 million requests, with an average of 9.6 million requests per day. The month’s best performing programme was Mrs Wilson, the real-life story which stars Ruth Wilson playing her own grandmother. The first episode garnered 2.1 million requests and the second just under 2 million, pipping The Apprentice to the top spot for the month as its Christmas Chocolate episode received 1.8 million requests. The Christmas day episode of EastEnders and the Call the Midwife Christmas special also performed well, with 1.4 million and 1.3 million requests respectively.

BBC iPlayer’s top ten programmes for December were:

  Programme Episode Requests
1 Mrs Wilson Episode 1 2,147,000
2 Mrs Wilson Episode 2 1,963,000
3 The Apprentice Series 14 – Christmas Chocolate 1,810,000
4 The Apprentice Series 14 – Interviews 1,693,000
5 Mrs Wilson Episode 3 1,676,000
6 The Apprentice Series 14 – The Final 1,614,000
7 Dynasties Painted Wolf 1,445,000
8 EastEnders 25/12/2018 1,404,000
9 Strictly Come Dancing Series 16 – The Final 1,334,000
10 Dynasties Tiger 1,298,000

More box sets were added to BBC iPlayer in 2018. A selection of new and classic box sets were available at Christmas, while earlier in the year BBC iPlayer added documentaries from Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley, classic dramas such as Pride and Prejudice and House of Cards, comedies such as The League of Gentlemen and Miranda, and every episode of Doctor Who since the 2005 revival.

In summer, BBC iPlayer ran two major trials, streaming both the World Cup and Wimbledon in Ultra-High Definition and High Dynamic Range for the first time. Fans were able to stream every BBC One match from the summer’s FIFA World Cup and every centre court match from Wimbledon, enabling them to watch the summer of sport in unprecedented quality. And they proved a hit with audiences, receiving over 1.6 million requests across the trials, with England’s quarter final match against Sweden the most popular UHD programme.

In addition to live UHD, BBC One’s landmark David Attenborough-narrated natural history series Dynasties was made also available to watch on-demand in UHD and HDR, with each episode available to watch after broadcast.

New smart TV functionality was launched in July making it even easier to restart live TV programmes with BBC iPlayer. Pressing the green button on compatible Smart TVs will now immediately launch BBC iPlayer and restart the current TV show. Additionally mobile app notifications were introduced for the first time, letting users know when their downloaded programmes are about to expire.

The BBC recently launched a public consultation on its plans to reinvent BBC iPlayer – making it a destination in its own right, with box sets, live programming and archive titles that champion quality UK content and offer great programmes for longer.

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