iPlayer sees record-breaking Xmas

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

On iPlayer, new dramas The Serpent and Black Narcissus, the Christmas antics in EastEnders and Call The Midwife – together with the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie helped smash records for viewing, with iPlayer seeing 245 million streams over the holidays (December 21st 2020 to January 3rd 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  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 per cent 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.

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer says: “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.”

The top 20 individual episodes over the festive fortnight, per title, on BBC iPlayer were: 

Rank Programme Episode Streams

1

EastEnders 25/12/2020

1,524,000

2

Call the Midwife Christmas Special 2020

1,487,000

3

Spider-Man: Homecoming

1,459,000

4

Black Narcissus

1,322,000

5

The Serpent

1,019,000

6

Mrs Brown’s Boys 2020 Specials – Mammy of the People

962,000

7

Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks 01/01/21

941,000

8

Strictly Come Dancing Series 18 – Christmas Special

883,000

9

Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special 2019

832,000

10

Alicia Keys Rocks New Year’s Eve Part 1

799,000

11

The Queen 2020

797,000

12

Happy New Year Live!

780,000

13

Zog and the Flying Doctors

775,000

14

Match of the Day 2020/21 – 26/12/2020

741,000

15

His Dark Materials Series 2 – episode 7 – Æsahættr

643,000

16

Ghosts The Ghost of Christmas

634,000

17

The Great British Sewing Bee 2020 Specials – Celebrity Christmas Special

619,000

18

Dunkirk

619,000

19

Have I Got News for You Have I Got 30 Years for You

609,000

20

Motherland Christmas Special

589,000

The top 20 programmes over the festive fortnight on BBC iPlayer:

Rank Programme Streams

1

EastEnders

13,852,000

2

Hey Duggee

8,034,000

3

Bing

5,690,000

4

The Serpent

3,935,000

5

Gavin & Stacey

3,790,000

6

Black Narcissus

2,899,000

7

Breakfast

2,877,000

8

Mrs Brown’s Boys

2,761,000

9

His Dark Materials

2,653,000

10

The Vicar of Dibley

2,519,000

11

Doctor Who

2,425,000

12

Call the Midwife

2,392,000

13

Numberblocks

2,363,000

14

Not Going Out

2,173,000

15

Match of the Day

2,128,000

16

Spiral

1,982,000

17

Waterloo Road

1,951,000

18

MasterChef: The Professionals

1,888,000

19

Ghosts

1,709,000

20

Waffle the Wonder Dog

1,663,000


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