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BBC iPlayer Views Up 33% In 2020 As ‘Normal People’ Hits 62 Million Views

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By Richard Middleton

The BBC’s streamer iPlayer has revealed that total viewing over the past 12 months is up by a third on the same period last year, with Element Pictures’ adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People attracting more than 60 million views.

The 12 x 30-minute show, which was adapted by Rooney alongside writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe, received more than 62 million requests to stream between 1 January o 30 November, according to the UK public broadcaster.

In total, iPlayer had 5.3 billion stream requests across the same period, up 33 per cent on the same period last year, and already 850 million requests higher than the whole of 2019.

Hit crime drama Killing Eve secured a further 39 million requests for its third season, while other big successes included Aussie drama The Secrets She Keeps, Mike Bartlett’s Life and Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You.

Thriller The Nest was also a ratings winner, while away from scripted, the UK’s version of Banijay’s long-running format MasterChef – now into its 16th season on the BBC – bagged more than 22 million requests to stream.

Lockdown also helped to fuel a surge in kids viewing, with Bing, Hey Duggee, Numberblocks, In the Night Garden and Peter Rabbit all top performers, while a record 480 million requests were recorded for news content.

Controller of iPlayer, Dan McGolpin said: “It’s been a tough year for so many of us but through two national lockdowns and many difficult months BBC iPlayer has been there to keep us entertained and well informed wherever you are throughout the UK, seeing 5 billion requests for the first time ever.

While direct comparisons with other streamers are problematic because of the way different services record their views, Netflix – for example – said in October that Ryan Murphy’s series Ratched had been watched by 48 million users globally in its first 28 days available. That made it the “biggest original season one of the year”, according to the streamer.

The BBC has become increasingly vocal about is reach compared with streamer, with the pubcaster’s former chief Tony Hall citing the fact that in March, around 24 per cent of all UK video, audio and online time spent by the average adult in a week was with the BBC, while Netflix was around 4 per cent.

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