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BBC iPlayer breaks records with best-ever first half of the year

A record-breaking number of viewers turned to BBC iPlayer in the first half of 2020, with 3.1 billion requests to stream programmes, up by 47% on the previous year.
April-June also marks a new best-ever quarter for iPlayer with 1.6 billion requests, an increase of more than half (59%) on the same quarter last year. Viewing was already up prior to the UK lockdown, with the first quarter 34% higher than the same quarter for 2019.

Hit new BBC Three drama Normal People and the third series of cat and mouse thriller Killing Eve make up all of the top ten most popular episodes so far this year. The latest chapter of Villanelle and Eve’s story tops the list, with episode one achieving 6.95 million requests and series 3 receiving a total of 35.6 million requests so far. It’s followed by the start of Connell and Marianne’s love story in Normal People, with the first episode receiving 5.54 million requests and the 12-part series getting an enormous 54.8 million requests – the highest for a drama series so far this year.

Dan McGolpin, controller of BBC iPlayer, says: “It’s fantastic to see record viewing levels on BBC iPlayer across the first half of 2020, with huge numbers for the brand new and simply unmissable Normal People and for hotly anticipated returners like Killing Eve, This Country and Race Across the World. In a year full of challenges, BBC iPlayer has entertained us, connected us to events like the virtual Glastonbury and the restarted football season, broadened our horizons through Culture in Quarantine, educated our younger family members through BBC Bitesize and all the while kept us informed of the latest news from around the globe.”

Boosted by lockdown viewing, April-June was up 59% on the same quarter last year and 17% on the first three months of this year, with high demand for new dramas like The Salisbury Poisonings and Normal People and the latest series of favourites including The A Word and Killing Eve. Viewers also headed to iPlayer for some reality TV escapism with The Great British Sewing Bee and MasterChef all proving popular in the quarter.

Although Worthy Farm couldn’t be full of thousands of music lovers this year, many relived highlights from the legendary festival with iPlayer’s dedicated Glastonbury channel as part of The Glastonbury Experience. Following a three month hiatus, the return of the world’s oldest sporting competition, The FA Cup, was another highlight as football fans streamed the quarter-final match between Norwich City and Manchester United.

Box sets continued to perform well on iPlayer, from classics like My Family and Waterloo Road to great new shows like I May Destroy You and The Luminaries. In July, BBC iPlayer has continued to add even more new box sets including Emmy nominated Mrs. America, Katy Keene and Disney’s supernatural thriller Fort Salem, alongside archive favourites like ground-breaking sketch comedy The Real McCoy and early 2000s hairdressing hit Cutting It. Pressparty

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