After weeks of build-up, speculation and pre-emptive condemnation in the press, Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial attracted an audience of over one and a half million viewers to Channel 4 last night between 10pm and 11:15pm.
The controversial live broadcast, which saw Jon Snow and Dr Christian Jessen hosting a studio discussion about the effects of the class A drug MDMA on the brain, pulled in an average viewership of 1.6m people and earned a 10% audience share.
But the show’s ratings suffered something of a comedown over its 75-minute duration. It opened in front of just under 2m people, but had shed nearly half its audience by the time the credits rolled, with only 1.15m viewers still tuned in at 11:15pm.
Drugs Live was, however, the second most popular programme in Channel 4’s schedule last night after Grand Designs, which was watched by 2.3m (10%) between 9-10pm.
The show also proved more alluring than its direct terrestrial competitors Paddy and Sally’s Excellent Gypsy Adventure on Channel 5 (608k/3.6%) and BBC2’s Culture Show Special, JK Rowling: Writing for Grown-Ups, which pulled in a surprisingly low audience of just 634,000 viewers (3.4%). Although both BBC1's 10pm news bulletin (4.6m/25%) and ITV1's News at Ten (2m/11%) fared better than C4's broadcast.
Mind you, with Twitter still abuzz about Drugs Live this morning, and the promise of Keith Allen’s OTT Ecstasy reaction to savour in this evening’s instalment (10pm, Channel 4), it’ll be intriguing to see how The Ecstasy Trial’s second part fares in the ratings this time tomorrow…