Coronation Street and EastEnders have fewer than 6,000 viewers dividing them when their average audiences are compared over a year, an exclusive RadioTimes.com study can reveal.
Despite a fierce rivalry between ITV and BBC’s flagship soap operas and much conjecture in the news as to their relative performances, it turns out the shows return almost exactly the same audience numbers.
In the period May 1 2010 to May 1 2011*, Coronation Street averaged 9.198 million viewers per episode, making it the nation's favourite soap in terms of bums on seats. However, EastEnders missed out on the top spot by a hair's-breadth, averaging 9.192 million viewers per show in the same period.
In fact, EastEnders enjoyed a marginally better average audience share over the year, commanding 37.9 per cent of all British TV viewers during its broadcasts compared to 36.8 per cent for Corrie.
In third place is ITV’s Emmerdale, which pulled in 7.3 million viewers across the year, a 33.1 per cent audience share.
A vast gulf divides the three primetime shows from their early evening, teen-based counterpart, Hollyoaks. The Chester-based soap, broadcast on Channel 4, averages 1.18 million viewers per episode, a 5.9 per cent audience share.
* figures only include first run of each episode