Audiences ‘dessert’ Channel 4’s Bake Off finale – can it win them back next season?
The Great British Bake Off is usually the cherry on top of Channel 4’s schedule, but audiences went sour this time round.
The Great British Bake Off finale was watched by 5.2 million
Series 13 of the much-loved baking format wrapped last night (November 16) with 2 million fewer viewers than 2021’s series finale, according to Barb data. Its 13th series ended with an audience of 5.2 million, down on the 7.2 million who tuned in for 2021’s series finale. This is the lowest ratings of a series ender of all time.
The series was heavily criticized in the press for being the show’s worst in its history, but what does this mean for one of Channel 4’s prized possessions?
Across the show’s latest 10 episodes 1.3 million fewer viewers turned up to watch live, with the series averaging 4.6 million compared to last year’s 7.9 million.
The overnight ratings don’t account for catch-up viewing, however, which can typically add another 2 million views for a show like Bake Off. Series 12’s finale, for example, was watched by 9.2 million people in total, with both live and catch-up combined.
This year’s series was won by Syabira Yusoff in a sustainability-themed finale. But its 10 episodes proved controversial in the press and online, with many hitting back at its challenging tasks and harsh judging.
TV commentator Scott Bryan wrote in The Guardian: “No, it isn’t just you. There has been something really wrong with The Great British Bake Off this year.” He went on to question its bizarre themes, like how in “Halloween week (which aired two weeks before Halloween for no reason), they had to make an edible hanging lantern, which had to double up as a piñata. Why?”
Then the show may have also been cannibalized by Matt Hancock’s entrance in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here and Tony Adam’s performance on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The Great British Bake Off is one of Channel 4’s biggest assets and its second-largest live watching audience after Gogglebox, so it’s a show the broadcaster needs to keep alive. Other key appointment-to-view titles include Married At First Sight Australia on E4, which ended its 2022 run with 1.9 million.
The market-wide retreat of live linear audiences can’t even be attributed to this one, as I’m A Celeb returned with 9.1 million on November 7, in line with its 2021 series opener. Jem Lloyd-Williams, who is chief executive of Mindshare UK, penned in The Drum that I’m a Celeb has proved the viability of big TV moments.
Sainsbury’s came on board as Bake Off’s main sponsor in 2022, taking over from Aldi, which committed two years to the format. Sainsbury’s partnership was the biggest in the show’s five-year history with Channel 4, with a deal that spanned across the main show, its after-show An Extra Slice and spin-offs including the celebrity Stand Up to Cancer edition.