Growth in connected TV, mobiles and tablets fuels record viewing figures for BBC iPlayer in 2011

Monday, January 16th, 2012
BBC iPlayer logo

New figures released today show that the growing popularity of internet-connected TVs, smartphones and tablets helped BBC iPlayer hit record-breaking numbers in 2011, with 1.94 billion TV and radio programme requests across all platforms.

Although computers are still the most popular platform for BBC iPlayer users, accounting for two-thirds of requests over 2011, the month of December saw a huge spike in usage through mobiles, tablets and connected TVs.

In December alone, 7 million programmes were requested on connected TV sets, a year-on-year increase of over +1000%, while mobile phones and tablets recorded 13 million and 10 million requests – year-on-year increases of +163% and +596% respectively. This reflects both the growing penetration of internet-connected devices in the market, and the near-universal availability of BBC iPlayer on those devices.

This helped BBC iPlayer register a record-breaking 187 million monthly requests across all platforms in December alone, a +29% increase year-on-year.

With the installs of mobile and tablet apps – many on new devices bought for Christmas – BBC iPlayer registered its best-ever week after Christmas (26th December-02 January) with TV programme requests at a weekly high of 29.7 million. The most popular day over this period was Monday 2nd January 2012 which saw a record 5.4 million TV programme requests on one day, with Sherlock the most-watched programme with 623k – the most requests seen for any one programme in one 24-hour period.

The figures also reveal BBC iPlayer’s top 20 programmes over the whole festive period (20 December – 02 January), with Top Gear Indian Special being the most popular programme – watched 1.7 million times. The show was also the most-watched TV programme for the whole month of December.

Strong performances over the festive period were also seen for Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Show (over 1.0m requests), followed by the Christmas Day Eastenders episode (966k requests). Both Christmas specials also feature amongst the top 10 titles for December along with Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice, and Doctor Who – reflecting the strong linear TV viewing figures the BBC also recorded over the period.

Daniel Danker, General Manager, Programmes and on Demand, said: “While 2011 was a remarkable year for BBC iPlayer across the board, the real story was growth of iPlayer on TVs, mobile phones, and tablets, outpacing PC growth many times over. Having established itself as a must-have app for smartphone users and the gold-standard for TV on the go, we see huge potential for BBC iPlayer on the living room set in 2012 – the natural home for great TV – as audiences switch on to the benefits of connected TV.”


The figures in this press release refer to “programmes watched”, meaning programme requests.

As part of the BBC’s commitment to increase the availability of BBC iPlayer, the service is now available on hundreds of platforms and devices, including TV platforms, internet-connected TVs, mobile phones, tablets and games consoles.

Connected TVs describes devices capable of delivering BBC iPlayer direct to TVs, including IPTV platforms such as BT Vision, connected “Smart TVs” and connected set-top boxes, such as Freeview HD, Freesat HD and some Blu-Ray players.