Advanced Television

iPlayer sees record-breaking H1

July 29, 2021

Drama and sport fans helped BBC iPlayer to achieve a record-breaking first half of the year in 2021.

Programmes were streamed over 3.3 billion times between January and June this year, up 8 per cent on the same period last year, and up a massive 59 per cent on the same period in 2019 following huge growth in early 2020.

The second half of the year has also kicked off to a record-breaking start, thanks to the huge popularity of Euro 2020 and Wimbledon, both of which were available to watch on iPlayer in Ultra HD. The Euro 2020 final between England and Italy on July 11th set a new live viewing record on iPlayer, with 5.8 million streams, while the Wimbledon Men’s singles final drew big numbers too, with 1.7 million live streams as Novak Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini.

So far, 2021 on iPlayer has seen:

  • Police corruption thriller Line of Duty’s return become the biggest single episode of the year, as the first episode of the sixth series was streamed 8.7 million times – also more than any single episode across the whole of last year.
  • Viewers have also raced through the previous  five series, with the show streamed a total of 127 million times in the first six months of the year
  • Line of Duty is now the second most popular programme of the year behind only EastEnders, which is enjoying its best year ever on iPlayer with 140 million streams in the first half of the year

Other big hits of the year so far include exotic thriller The Serpent; Jimmy McGovern’s prison drama Time; crime drama Bloodlands, and mystery drama The Pact.

“There’s been a step-change in the popularity of BBC iPlayer over the last two years and during the first half of 2021 we’ve seen further growth including some incredible numbers for Line of Duty, the best half-year on record for EastEnders and a spectacular performance for Euro 2020,” notes Dan McGolpin, Director, BBC iPlayer and channels. “It’s also fantastic to see so many brand new series attracting large audiences with The Serpent, Time, Bloodlands, The Pact and A Perfect Planet all featuring episodes in the iPlayer top ten.”

The most popular episodes per series on iPlayer between January and June 2021 are:

Rank Programme Episode Streams
1 Line of Duty Series 6 – episode 1 8,745,000
2 The Serpent Series 1 – episode 1 6,092,000
3 Time Series 1 – episode 1 5,572,000
4 Line of Duty Series 1 – episode 1 5,190,000
5 Euro 2020 Round of 16: England v Germany 5,113,000
6 Bloodlands Series 1 – episode 1 4,638,000
7 The Pact Series 1 – episode 1 4,201,000
8 Traces Series 1 – episode 1 4,078,000
9 Line of Duty Series 2 – episode 1 3,541,000
10 A Perfect Planet Episode 1 – Volcano 3,484,000






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