2017 has been the strongest year yet for BBC iPlayer, but does it have what it takes to stand up to streaming giants Netflix and Amazon?
Throughout the year, iPlayer racked up 3.3 billion views with an average 272 million episodes being watched each month.
According to the BBC’s own analytics, the iPlayer audience is now pretty evenly split between men and women, but is overwhelmingly used by under-55s.
Beside the see-side
The platform’s most popular show was the groundbreaking Blue Planet II, the David Attenborough follow-up to 2016’s Planet Earth II, with over 4.7 million views on its premier episode.
Blue Planet II showed audiences the sights and sounds of the ocean’s depths in revolutionary detail, and iPlayer was the best way to watch the spectacle, giving audiences the power to watch episodes in 4K Ultra-HD quality for the first time.
Other top shows include the latest season of Brummie-gangster-drama, Peaky Blinders, and the first season of historical epic, Taboo. Both shows are written by Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? creator, Steven Knight, and star actor, Tom Hardy – making the pair some of the biggest earners going for the BBC.
Episodes of Three Girls and Doctor Foster also feature in the list of most-streamed episodes, demonstrating the BBC audience’s continuing appetite for quality drama.
It’s been an extraordinary year for BBC iPlayer.
We showed one of our most visually spectacular programmes, Blue Planet II, in the best quality ever seen on the BBC, as well as making BBC iPlayer much more personalised.
In 2018, we’ll be looking to build on these successes and continue to make BBC iPlayer a must-visit destination in its own right.- Dan Taylor-Watt: Lead Developer, BBC iPlayer
Louis Louis, oh yes
iPlayer also drew audiences with a growing library of boxsets and the release of ‘From The Archive’ – making classic shows available to streaming audiences for the first time.
BBC archive content has seen long-term success on other streaming services, such as the early-2000’s hit, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, which found lasting popularity on Netflix.
Also introduced in 2017 was the ability to pause and resume viewing across multiple devices, and personalized recommendations from individual viewing habits.
These features, which have been standard on many other platforms for years, have finally started to bring iPlayer in line with the competition.