Lockdown sees viewers flock to BBC iPlayer in record numbers - with Sunday’s Prime Ministerial Statement contributing to biggest ever day

These unprecedented times have seen the vast majority of us spending much more time at home than usual, and with more time on their hands, viewers are turning to BBC iPlayer in record-breaking numbers.

Published: 13 May 2020
This has been a unique period in our history and I’m pleased that BBC iPlayer has been able to make such a positive contribution to what the nation’s watching: delivering the latest news whenever you want it, teaching you something new whatever your age and providing you with a place to escape, whatever your mood.
— Dan McGolpin

Today, the BBC has unveiled that:

  • BBC iPlayer’s biggest ever day was Sunday 10 May, with 22.5 million requests*, and 1.1 million requests for the Prime Minister’s statement.
  • Since lockdown was announced on 23 March, BBC iPlayer has seen 927 million requests* – 61 per cent higher than the same 7-week period last year.
  • The success of BBC Three’s hit new drama Normal People, which has had over 28m requests to date and the continued popularity of Killing Eve contributed to iPlayer’s most successful week ever, with 146 million requests between 27 April - 3 May.
  • April was the biggest month BBC iPlayer has ever seen, with 564 million requests.
  • In the first three months of 2020, BBC iPlayer saw a record 1.4 billion requests, up 34 per cent on the same quarter in 2019.

Controller of BBC iPlayer Dan McGolpin says: “This has been a unique period in our history and I’m pleased that BBC iPlayer has been able to make such a positive contribution to what the nation’s watching: delivering the latest news whenever you want it, teaching you something new whatever your age and providing you with a place to escape, whatever your mood. From Bitesize Daily to Race Across the World, from Normal People to Killing Eve, people are finding more to watch on BBC iPlayer than ever before.”

Initially, growth was driven by people coming to BBC iPlayer for news, particularly the lockdown announcement itself, where the Prime Minister’s address received 900,000 requests. There was also a big increase in requests for children’s shows, including Bing, Hey Duggee and Numberblocks in this initial period. As the lockdown period has gone on, demand for drama and comedy programmes has grown strongly. The new series of Our Girl has also done well, and the escapism of travel entertainment series Race Across the World has proved popular with viewers too.

Viewers flocked to comedies like Gavin And Stacey and Mrs Brown’s Boys during lockdown, and the conclusion of This Country has been the most popular comedy programme. People have also been turning to classic BBC box sets on iPlayer during these times, with series like Waterloo Road, Spooks, Doctor Who and Call the Midwife all performing very well.

Younger viewers have also been able to turn to iPlayer for educational programmes. Requests for Bitesize Daily grew more than tenfold from the day that it launched.

The most popular episodes since lockdown are:

Rank

Series

Episode

Requests

1

Killing Eve - Series 3

Episode 1 - Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey

5.17M

2

Killing Eve - Series 3

Episode 2 - Management Sucks

3.69M

3

The Nest 

Episode 1

3.63M

4

Killing Eve - Series 3

Episode 3 - Meetings Have Biscuits

3.26M

5

Normal People

Episode 1

3.13M

6

Normal People

Episode 2

2.86M

7

The Nest

Episode 2

2.85M

8

Normal People

Episode 3

2.63M

9

Normal People 

Episode 5

2.55M

10

The Nest

Episode 3

2.53M

The most popular episodes per series since lockdown have been:

Rank

Programme

Episode

Requests

1

Killing Eve - Series 3

Episode 1 - Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey

5.17M

2

The Nest 

Episode 1

3.63M

3

Normal People

Episode 1

3.13M

4

Our Girl - Series 4

Episode 1

1.91M

5

EastEnders

23/03/2020

1.59M

6

Race Across the World - Series 2

Episode 1

1.50M

7

This Country - Series 3

Episode 6 - Harvest

1.38M

8

Killing Eve - Series 1

Episode 1 - Nice Face

1.23M

9

Prime Ministerial Statement

A Statement from the Prime Minister

1.10M

10

BBC News Special

 10/05/20

1.10M

The most popular episodes in Q1 were:

Rank

Programme

Episode

Requests

1

Dracula

Episode 1 - The Rules of the Beast

3.26M

2

The Split - Series 2

Episode 6

2.96M

3

The Split - Series 2

Episode 1

2.93M

4

The Split - Series 2

Episode 5

2.90M

5

The Split - Series 2

Episode 4

2.84M

6

The Split - Series 2

Episode 3

2.72M

7

Dracula

Episode 2 - Blood Vessel

2.59M

8

Silent Witness - Series 23

Episode 1 - Deadhead, Part 1

2.53M

9

The Split - Series 2

Episode 2

2.47M

10

Dracula

Episode 2 -  The Dark Compass

2.23M

 The most popular episodes per series in Q1 were:

Rank

Programme

Episode

Requests

1

Dracula 

Episode 1 - The Rules of the Beast

3.26M

2

The Split - Series 2

Episode 6

2.96M

3

Silent Witness - Series 23

Episode 1 - Deadhead, Part 1

2.53M

4

Top Gear - Series 28

Episode 1

2.20M

5

Call the Midwife - Series 9

Episode 1

2.10M

6

Doctor Who - Series 12

Episode 1 - Spyfall, Part 1

2.04M

7

This Country - Series 3

Episode 1 - A Letter from Slugs

2.02M

8

EastEnders

01/01/2020

1.97M

9

The Trial of Christine Keeler

Episode 1

1.94M

10

Noughts + Crosses

Episode 1

1.80M

*Please note, data from the Sky catch-up service is included here where available.

RB