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Christmas 2014 on BBC iPlayer

Victoria Jaye

Head of TV Content for BBC iPlayer

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I’m Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content for BBC iPlayer.

Christmas on the BBC is an incredibly special time of year, with our broadcast schedules bursting with amazing shows. It’s also the time of year when we see a significant surge in BBC iPlayer usage, as people all over the country un-wrap new devices and take the opportunity to enjoy our terrific range of programmes, at a time that suits them.

A record breaking Christmas

BBC iPlayer usage over Christmas was up year on year. December saw a record-breaking 227 million requests, (excluding Sky and Virgin Cable), which is up 25% on December 2013. And since its launch, there’s been a staggering 30 million downloads of the BBC iPlayer app. Christmas week was a record-breaking week, with 54.5m requests and New Year’s Day was the best day on record, with 5.2 million unique browsers (we’ll be getting request figures soon).

We ran a survey throughout the holiday period, and found a third of people used BBC iPlayer more than usual, and over a quarter “binged” by watching two or more episodes back-to-back.

Tablets dominate

Because linear TV dominates over Christmas, it was mobiles and tablets which drove the greatest increase in BBC iPlayer usage, both delivering more requests than computers over Christmas week. Tablets really dominated during Christmas week, with requests rising +31% week-on-week. As usual, we saw a spike in app downloads (150,000) on Christmas Day, as new gadgets were tried out.

We also found certain programmes were more popular on some devices, than others. While Top Gear was in the top three for all devices (computer, mobile, tablet and connected TVs), the Christmas Day EastEnders episode took precedence on tablets and mobiles, and the Boxing Day EastEnders was the second most popular programme on mobiles across the week. Mrs Brown’s Boys did particularly well on connected TVs, and The Boy in the Dress took second place on tablets.

Collections prove important new route for discovering programmes

We re-launched BBC iPlayer in March last year and central to its redesign was the ability for us to editorially curate the breadth and range of content we have in iPlayer. This is hugely important as it enables us to showcase content in lots of new and different ways, encouraging audiences to browse and discover new programmes, as well as catch up on favourites.

In the old version of iPlayer, except for a single 'Featured' section, the entire homepage was populated with programmes automatically. 

New iPlayer provides us with new opportunities to group programming

This Christmas, we were able to editorially curate iPlayer’s Homepage to really shine a light on the breadth and range of programmes available. Sounds so simple, but it’s not something we’ve ever had the opportunity to do before.

We created themed collections of programmes for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. Collections were intended to showcase titles audiences might not traditionally seek out via Search or ‘Most Popular’.

What’s really interesting is that these Christmas collections accounted for 14% of journeys from the Homepage to programme playback pages. This is encouraging if you compare it to ‘Most Popular’ which accounts for 53% of Homepage journeys and our top promotional slot on the iPlayer Homepage (top left), which accounts for 15% of journeys.

Headline programme requests via BBC iPlayer

Top Gear Specials and EastEnders performed very strongly on iPlayer throughout the Christmas week (22nd - 30th December) – as did Miranda and the final of The Apprentice

Here’s the iPlayer Christmas week, top 20 programmes.


Programme title - Requests

Top Gear Patagonia Special, Part 1 - 2,078,700


EastEnders 25/12/2014 - 1,689,400


Top Gear Patagonia Special, Part 2 1,553,700


EastEnders 26/12/2014 1,432,900


The Apprentice Series 10 - The Final and You're Hired Episode 14 1,309,200


Miranda Special - I Do, But To Who? 1,263,700


EastEnders 23/12/2014 - 1,147,100


EastEnders 24/12/2014 - 1,107,900


Doctor Who - Last Christmas - 1,069,400


The Boy in the Dress - 1,058,300


EastEnders 22/12/2014 - 1,055,700


Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special - Mammy's Tickled Pink - 976,900


EastEnders 29/12/2014 - 971,800


Call the Midwife Christmas Special 25/12/2014 - 948,800


The Wrong Mans Series 2 Episode 1 655,000


EastEnders 30/12/2014 - 643,300


Not Going Out Series 7 Christmas Special Episode 10 - 494,900


Gangsta Granny - 488,100


Match of the Day 26/12/2014 - 470,900


The Wrong Mans Series 2 Episode 2 - 454,500

Christmas may be over, but BBC iPlayer will keep on giving throughout 2015. We’ll be bringing you more exclusive content and more exciting, new product features so you can continue to enjoy the BBC’s amazing TV content, wherever you are, whenever you want.

Happy New Year.

Victoria Jaye is Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer


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