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BBC iPlayer basks in Christmas surge as viewers desert broadcast TV


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 8, 2018 | 3 min read

The BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service has gone from strength to strength over the Christmas break having registered a sharp increase in streaming requests led by an EastEnders Christmas special and a Peaky Blinders box set.

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BBC iPlayer basks in Christmas surge as viewers desert broadcast TV

Viewers are increasingly turning to catch-up services such as the iPlayer to get their daily fix of small screen fare, rejecting the traditional requirement of tuning into a scheduled broadcast at an allotted hour.

In a sign of these changing patterns of behavior, more viewers logged onto iPlayer and streamed more content between 25 and 31 December than on any other week on record with 69.2m individual content requests being made cumulating in a total of 25.6m hours spent.

By way of comparison, the figures recorded for the equivalent period last year stood at 58.6m requests for 22.5m hours of content.

The EastEnders Christmas special was viewed an impressive 1.6m times over the holiday period, with six of the top 10 iPlayer shows all attributed to the ever popular East London soap.

Christmas has traditionally been a bumper period for broadcasters as cold weather and the holidays conspire to see people spend more time at home slumped in front of television screens. In more recent years however the likes of the BBC and ITV have faced stiff competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Wary of changing behaviours, the BBC has sought to capitalise on the trend by lining up some of its most popular content such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Line of Duty for binge viewing online.

The BBC is currently working with Microsoft to develop an experimental iPlayer service capable of identifying viewers solely by their voices.

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