Advanced Television

BBC iPlayer exceeds 5bn annual requests

December 8, 2020

This year there have been 5.3 billion requests to stream content on the BBC iPlayer service across January to November, 33 per cent ahead of the same period last year, and already 850 million requests higher than the whole of 2019.

Killing Eve has once again been a huge hit, with nearly 40 million requests for the third series of the spy thriller, whislt there have been over 62 million requests to stream Normal People, the BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s celebrated novel.

The most popular series on iPlayer so far this year are:

Rank Programme Series Requests
1 Normal People


2 Killing Eve Series 3


3 MasterChef Series 16


4 The Split Series 2


5 Silent Witness Series 23


6 The Secrets She Keeps


7 Life


8 I May Destroy You


9 This Country Series 3


10 The Nest


Killing Eve’s dramatic return for series three is the biggest single episode of the year so far on iPlayer, with 7.4 million requests to stream the first episode of the smash hit thriller’s third series. Normal People’s debut episode takes the second spot, with over 6.3 million requests. Other strong performers from new dramas include the first episodes of The Nest, Dracula, The Secrets She Keeps and recent hit Roadkill, while drama series The Split’s return and the first episode of comedy This Country’s final series also proved popular.

The top ten most popular episodes per series on iPlayer so far in 2020 are:

Rank Programme Series Episode Requests


Killing Eve Series 3 Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey



Normal People Episode 1



The Nest Episode 1



Dracula The Rules of the Beast



The Split Series 2 Episode 1



The Secrets She Keeps Episode 1



This Country Series 3 A Letter from Slugs



Roadkill Episode 1



Life Episode 1



The Salisbury Poisonings Episode 1


EastEnders has also had a fantastic year, with the long-running soap seeing 163 million requests in 2020 so far, in spite of an extended hiatus earlier in the year after a break in filming due to the Coronavirus outbreak. It returned with a bang in September, and has since seen a very strong 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, iconic episodes from the show’s past and a special look behind the scenes with Stacey Dooley.

In spite of many changes to the live event schedule this year, as the Olympics, Glastonbury and the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament were all rescheduled for next year, there were still strong performances for the FA Cup, a special virtual Glastonbury and Premier League matches live on the BBC for the first time ever.

Dan McGolpin, controller of BBC iPlayer, said: “It’s been a tough year for so many of us but through two national lockdowns and many difficult months BBC iPlayer has been there to keep us entertained and well informed wherever you are throughout the UK, seeing 5 billion requests for the first time ever. It’s pleasing to see the sensational adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People take top slot as the biggest series of the year and there have been other brand new drama series among the most popular, such as Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, The Nest and The Secrets She Keeps as well as hugely popular returners like Killing Eve and The Split.

“Top comedy series was the third instalment of This Country and top entertainment series was MasterChef, with Strictly yet to complete its run. There’s a series waiting for us all on BBC iPlayer this Christmas and plenty of films to enjoy before the new year when we will be widening choice even further as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air returns to the BBC and Pretty Little Liars arrives for the first time,” he added.

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