Top Gear heads Christmas BBC iPlayer chart

Clarkson is catch-up king - but Sherlock scores 800k hits in a day

Top Gear’s India Special was the most popular programme over the Christmas period among iPlayer users, new figures reveal. A staggering 1.7 million requests were received for the typically controversial programme between its broadcast on BBC2 on 28 December, and 2 January, the end of the period measured. This made it the top iPlayer show for the whole of December, as well as for the festive period.


BBC iPlayer broke its own traffic records for both December and 2011 overall. It processed 187 million requests across home computers, internet-enabled TVs, tablets and mobile devices during December, with 1.94 billion TV and radio programmes requested during the year – more than 5 million per day.

The second most popular Christmas programme on iPlayer was Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Comedy Roadshow, with 1m hits, followed by various editions of EastEnders, the Doctor Who festive special (892,000 iPlayer views) and Sherlock. The Benedict Cumberbatch drama had attracted 808,000 views to its iPlayer stream by the end of 2 January, despite only being shown on BBC1 on New Year’s Day.

Other popular programmes on iPlayer included Absolutely Fabulous, Great Expectations, Outnumbered, Merlin, and the film Tamara Drewe.

Mobiles, tablets and internet-enabled TVs saw a huge spike in iPlayer traffic in 2011, the figures show – particularly in December, when many such devices were received as Christmas gifts. For example, iPlayer usage via internet-enabled TVs was up by more than 1000% in December 2011 compared to the same month in 2010.


Daniel Danker, BBC general manager, programmes and on demand, said: “While 2011 was a remarkable year for BBC iPlayer across the board, the real story was growth of iPlayer on TVs, mobile phones, and tablets, outpacing PC growth many times over.”