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What Great British Bake Off's record-busting finale means for Channel 4

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

November 25, 2020 | 4 min read

The series 11 finale of The Great British Bake Off hit an average audience of 9.2 million viewers – the biggest it has ever mustered and a welcome shot in the arm for the broadcaster.

GBBO’s first episode of the series 11 hit 7.9 million overnight viewers, the highest the show has ever achieved on Channel 4, and there’s been considerable growth in the property throughout the duration of the season.

It’s a memorable result, especially with production harder than ever due to the lockdown restrictions it had to navigate.

Channel 4

The finale attracted a record-breaking 9.2 million viewers

The numbers

  • On the BBC in 2016, BBBO hit a peak of 16 million people. Its jump to commercial TV halved that audience, but it looks to be slowly rebuilding to those highs.

  • The finale attracted a record-breaking average audience of 9.2 million viewers and a 39.7% share of the viewing audience from 8pm to 9.15pm. It peaked at 10.4m for five minutes.

  • Bake Off has never had a larger overnight audience, nor has any Channel 4 show.

  • It drew 63.5% share of viewers aged 16 to 34 – the highest share of young viewers to any Bake Off episode across all channels to date and Channel 4’s highest share of young viewers in 14 years (since Big Brother in 2006).

Behind the numbers

  • Early in lockdown, TV figures were at decade-high levels. Prices were at historic lows. During the span of the show, the UK populace re-entered lockdown which aught to have spiked final figures. The second national lockdown looks to have elevated those levels again.

  • Channel 4 will need its top shows to outperform previous years. Especially with delays in the pipeline due to the lockdown. Thankfully, chief executive Alex Mahon recently said: “We will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.“

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  • Channel 4 snapped up the rights to from BBC in 2017 at a huge price but baited by the allure of attaching brands to the hot property. There were spin-off shows too: Bake Off: An Extra Slice presented by Jo Brand with Tom Allen, the festive specials and Junior Bake Off hosted by Harry Hill with judges Rav Gill and Liam Charles. These afforded extra reach and broadened the appeal of the main show.

  • It is finding new ways to monetise the series, with the recent launch of a Bake Off subscription box.

  • Comedian Matt Lucas joined the cast to offer a fresh perspective on the format. In the US, Netflix carries the rights to the show and is broadcasting on a weekly basis.

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