BBC iPlayer sees huge surge in popularity: can YOU guess the most-streamed shows?

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As millions of us stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, BBC iPlayer has enjoyed some record-breaking viewing figures. The Beeb has confirmed that last year was the biggest on record for the streaming service, which boasts catch-up content, exclusive shows, and complete boxsets to binge, as well as live linear channels for those who pay for the TV licence and have a BBC Account. In total, the BBC recorded a staggering 5.8 billion streams throughout 2020, which is around a third (31 percent) higher than the previous year.

Of course, national lockdowns are likely to have played a big part in the surge of streaming, however BBC iPlayer was also more widely available last year. The Beeb brought its streaming service to Sky Q boxes. Until now, Sky Q viewers were able to access a large swathe of catch-up content more the BBC, but had been missing out on some of the exclusives, films and boxsets available. The fully-fledged BBC iPlayer, which requires an account to use, also allows viewers to pause a show and pick-up where they left off on another device, like a smartphone, tablet, games console, or Chromecast, Fire TV Stick or Roku, for example.

According to the BBC, its growth across 2020 was also accelerated by an expanded catalogue of drama, comedy, and documentary box sets and longer availability for many films that aired on BBC channels. And the record-breaking streak from the BBC doesn’t look set to stop anytime soon.

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The corporation has announced that January 4th to 10th was the biggest week in its history, with 162 million programmes streamed from iPlayer across all platforms. In the first full week of 2021, The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders were the most popular shows with viewers. Interestingly, it seems these shows allowed Auntie to attract a younger demographic.

According to figures released by the BBC, the first full calendar week of 2021 saw a record-breaking number of sign-ins from viewers aged under 35, as 4.1 million younger fans signed into their BBC Account to watch iPlayer – with Pretty Little Liars, The FA Cup, A Teacher, The Serpent and A Perfect Planet the most popular programmes with that demographic.

With increased competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+. Apple TV+, Shudder, NOW TV, ITV Hub and All4 all vying for our attention after work – the BBC will likely to be pleased with the latest figures.

BBC iPlayer controller Dan McbGolpin said: “More people than ever are using BBC iPlayer and they are using it more often, with a staggering 5.8 billion streams in 2020. They are finding more boxsets to choose from, a growing Ultra HD offer and a brand-new kids experience for our youngest viewers. The BBC iPlayer experience will keep getting better whatever your age and wherever you’re based, and we are already seeing 2021 breaking new records with viewers flocking to The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, the FA Cup and many more.”

As for the most popular single show – the gong went to Normal People. The romantic drama enjoyed 63.7 million streams across iPlayer apps in 2020.

Set in Ireland, the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s hugely popular novel followed Connell and Marianne’s story of young love, and led a number of strong performances for new dramas, including Sydney-based series The Secrets She Keeps, Mike Bartlett’s Life, which followed the lives of four families in Manchester, Michaela Coel’s extraordinary I May Destroy You and the spectacular Scottish-set thriller The Nest, the BBC said.

You can find the full list of the biggest boxsets of 2020 below…

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