Empire of the Death is the #1 drama of the week, while we get our first idea of the final BARB viewing figures for Boom, 73 Yards, and Dot and Bubble. There’s also an update on Space Babies’ longer term performance

 

It’s been a couple of week since Empire of Death closed out the 2024 season of Doctor Who. So there’s a lot of new information to unpack. We now have the +7 results for both parts of the finale, Legend of Ruby Sunday and Empire of Death. We’ve also got our first sense of what to expect from the final +28 viewing figures for Boom, 73 Yards, and Dot and Bubble. On top of all that statements from the BBC give some sense of the wider picture for the season. These go beyond the data that BARB provides but provide crucial context to their view of Doctor Who‘s success.

 

Mel (BONNIE LANGFORD) joins the undead in Empire of Death, cornering the Doctor (NCUTI GATWA),BBC STUDIOS,James Pardon. Doctor Who. The top half of Mel's face is a skull, her hair hanging limply from the back of her head. One hand is stretched out threatening, an inch from the Doctor's face as he recoils
Mel (BONNIE LANGFORD) joins the undead in Empire of Death, cornering the Doctor (NCUTI GATWA),BBC STUDIOS,James Pardon

Both halves of the season finale feature in the Top 20 +7s for their respective weeks, with significant time-shift growth

Let’s begin with the most recent episodes. The +7 viewing figures reveal that in the week after transmission, The Legend of Ruby Sunday was seen by 3.5m people in the UK. Meanwhile, second half Empire of Death has a +7 viewing figure of 3.69m. That means that while Legend was down an almost imperceptible 0.02m (0.6%) on previous episode Rogue, Empire in turn added 0.19m (5.4%) to Legend’s result.

They’re helped to those results by large time-shifts. The first part of the finale added 1.48m (73.3%) to its overnight, while the conclusion gained 1.44m (64.0%) to its initial result. This aren’t quite the biggest time-shifts of the season; that honour still belongs to Boom’s 75.49%. But it indicates the strong response to the episodes and Sutekh’s return, apparently undamaged by the mixed reviews for the finale.

They also include the pre-transmission iPlayer views of 0.3m (Legend of Ruby Sunday) and 0.28m (Empire of Death). These are among the largest pre-transmission numbers for the season, which had continued to grow as, apparently, viewers got used to the midnight drop.

In terms of the charts, the two episodes are at #19 and #18 respectively. They manage to hang on in the Top 20 in a week full of live sports like the Euros football television and shows and stripped shows like Love Island, which is on six times a week. Within its own category Doctor Who was the #1 drama the week of Empire of Death. This means it beat long running shows like Casualty, and Midsomer Murders, as well as new crime drama Rebus.

 

Ruby Sunday (MILLIE GIBSON) toasts her and the Woman's success in 73 Yards. BBC STUDIOS,James Pardon. Doctor Who. 40 something Ruby, with shoulder length hair and large glasses, holds a glass of white wine, sitting on her couch.
Ruby Sunday (MILLIE GIBSON) toasts her and the Woman’s success in 73 Yards. BBC STUDIOS,James Pardon

Though yet to be confirmed, we now have a fair idea of how the season’s middle episodes will do in the final BARB results

The latest +28 viewing figures have yet to be officially released. However, based on the time-shifting numbers that Blogtor Who has seen, we have a reasonable idea of what they’ll be. Still, take the below with a hint of caution until the results are officially confirmed in this month’s Doctor Who Magazine.

Boom looks likely to finish on 4.21m viewers. That would be up around 0.63m (17.6%) from the battlefield drama’s +7 viewing figure. It would also mean it would be down around 0.2m (5%) from previous episode The Devil’s Chord.

73 Yards seems set to get a +28 number of around 4.56m, which would be about 0.5m (12.3%) new viewers since the +7 number. That would be 0.35m (8.3%) more than Boom. It would also mean that the spooky Doctor-lite episode continues to be the highest result of the season.

Finally, signs are that Dot and Bubble will have a +28 of in and around 3.81m, up approximately 0.43m (12.7%) from its +7 result. That would be down 0.75m (16.4%) from the season high of 73 Yards.

We’ll update you next month with a full overview of the season’s +28 results once they’re officially confirmed.

 

The Doctor (Ncuit Gatwa) hugs Ruby (Millie Gibson) in Space Babies,BBC STUDIOS AND BAD WOLF, Photo by James Pardon Doctor Who. The two hug, the Doctor beaming, in a white paneled corridor with child like drawings on the walls.
The Doctor (Ncuit Gatwa) hugs Ruby (Millie Gibson) in Space Babies,BBC STUDIOS AND BAD WOLF, Photo by James Pardon

Beyond the usual BARB results, the BBC have revealed Space Babies’ running total is now around 6 million

It’s also worth discussing some of the recent comments from the BBC about Doctor Who’s performance this year, and give a little bit more context to them.

According to the BBC, Space Babies’ audience is now “nearly 6 million.” In fact, between that comment and the time of writing it’s now likely slightly over 6m. This is about 1.5m more than its expected +28 viewing figure, but why? One factor, as we mentioned previously, is that in many ways the BBC has access to more accurate numbers than BARB can provide. In qualifying Space Babies’ performance, they can include both its BBC Three and BBC Two repeats during the week. It also includes any time-shifted recordings of them. With the BBC Three repeats alone getting around 0.5m viewers each week, they’re not insignificant additions.

Crucially, those are viewers not credited to Doctor Who in the BARB numbers but which undoubtedly count towards the BBC’s view of its success. Blogtor should point out too, that these repeat viewings didn’t exist in recent years. Therefore, season on season comparisons based purely on BBC One and iPlayer numbers aren’t strictly like for like.

 

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson explore Babystation Beta in Space Babies,BBC STUDIOS AND BAD WOLF,Photo by James Pardon Doctor Who. The Doctor and Ruby look cautiously out from a thin lift door, into a metal paneled corridor lit by sickly green light.
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson explore Babystation Beta in Space Babies,BBC STUDIOS AND BAD WOLF,Photo by James Pardon

Even after the season’s end, Doctor Who is still one of the most watched shows on iPlayer, with Space Babies alone watched almost half a million times in the past month

But consider also what this progression suggests. About this time last month Russell T Davies was suggesting that total for Space Babies was 5.6m. So Doctor Who has added about half a million new views even in its second month since transmission. People have joked, sometime derisively, about a “+365” viewing figure. But in truth, from the BBC’s perspective, there’s value in such a metric. If a show can grow its viewing figure to 227% of the original overnight over two months, then that’s worth knowing. Of course, Doctor Who is a show with a fanbase who often re-watch episodes. It also continually encourages new fans to jump on board. Considering those factors, that total number is likely to keep on growing over the course of the year.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s part of the modern world that media viewing habits are stretched out over an extended period of time. Hypothetically, an episode that’s constantly available for a year might get perhaps 8-10m views over that year. That would be no less impressive than one which in the old days got that in one day. Then it would effectively vanish never be seen again, sitting on the same number twelve months later.

It’s no wonder the BBC are trumpeting Doctor Who are “one of the most-watched programs on iPlayer.”

 

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) set course for adventure. ,BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon Doctor Who. The two stand in the TARDIS at the console, the Doctor with his hands in his pockets, both looking at the viewer
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) set course for adventure. ,BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon

The under 35 demographic is a vital battleground not just for Doctor Who, but for the future of television

The BBC statement also talked about Doctor Who’s status with the under 35 demographic. But why is that important? It’s been a recurring theme in these articles for several years now that audiences are shrinking across the board, with Doctor Who not immune, but actually more resistant than most dramas. One of several reasons for that is rather morbid. Every year, more of the generation for whom television was the default form of home entertainment are dying off. The middle generations consider it just one of a number of entertainment streams they engage with, including gaming, short form creator led content, and social media. But for the youngest generations television is actually their least preferred avenue to entertainment.

Many will be skeptical that there’s any real hope of turning that around. However, it’s undeniable that if television is to survive to the 22nd century, much less claw back lost territory, it has to engage more younger viewers. So shows like Doctor Who, which do generate with under 35s, are a vital tool to get young people through the door. All in the hope that it will be habit forming. A gateway to watching other shows too.

 

The Doctor (NCUTI GATWA) ,BBC Studios/Bad Wolf,James Pardon. Doctor Who. The Doctor leans forward across the console, hands on the controls, smiling
The Doctor (NCUTI GATWA) ,BBC Studios/Bad Wolf,James Pardon

Doctor Who is the #1 drama of the year so far with under 35s, a key target demographic for the BBC

It appears that roughly a fifth of Doctor Who’s audience this year has been under 34, with some episodes closer to a third. Many weeks, only the likes of the Euros football tournament and Love Island have done better with the demographic. Indeed, as the BBC pointed out in their statement, Doctor Who has been their #1 scripted drama this year.  It’s also near the top of that metric across all channels and streaming platforms in the UK.

All this makes Doctor Who a vital spearhead in the war to get young people watching television. Given that wider battle, it’s almost more important to the future than the overall viewing figure.

 

Nicola Coughlan as Joy in Joy to the World - BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon Doctor Who Christmas Special 2024
Nicola Coughlan as Joy in Joy to the World – BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon

Doctor Who returns with Joy to the World this Christmas to BBC One  in the UK and Ireland, and Disney+ everywhere else

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never read such rubbish.The show is a joke. So how long do they wait for figures? A month , two months, a year, to class it a success? What a joke.

  2. Thanks Nuallain for a sober, well researched piece which avoids the usual hyperbole around viewing figures, particularly the overnight ones. A cursory glance at the wider TV viewing figures will quickly demonstrate that Who is in quite a healthy position overall. “Live” viewing of TV, particularly drama, is rapidly declining as we are increasingly watching on a catch-up or streaming basis. Who’s particular strength is in its very long shelf life compared to any other show. It’s unfortunate that a significant portion of the fanbase haven’t kept up to speed with the changes in our viewing habits as their criticisms are looking increasingly out of date.

  3. Beautifully written piece, well researched & factual. I wish all the doom mongers & naysayers would read this, although such is their obsession with insisting that Doctor Who is failing miserably & thus destined for an early grave, that I’m sure they would still try to argue their view! It’s also worth pointing out that even just based on the 7+ figures, every episode has featured in the top 30, most in the top 20 & a significant number in the top 10, a statistic that the original run of the show, magnificent as it was, was rarely able to come close to, despite much higher viewing figures, which merely goes to demonstrate how things have changed & that nobody should be getting hung up on overnights of around 2m. Perspective, people….perspective!!

  4. Sorry it just seems to be trying to hide the fact that they launched the show with a poor lead actor, poor stories and a showrunner that believes his own propaganda. It has never been so bad and yet people trying to hide it? How’s the merchandise sales? – the last doctor sales fell off a cliff !

  5. The cope is definitely in full force at the BBC. I wish they would stop trying to spin a failure into a success with misleading quotes. Like the 6 million comment for Space Babies. The 28 day figure for that episode was 4.39 million. Which was only 0.38 million more than the 7 day figure. So, from 7 to 28 days it only gained 0.39 million. Yet the BBC would have us believe that it has now gained more than 6 million. That would be a rise of 1.61 million above the 28 day figure. The fact is that BARB’s final rating is the 28 day figure. The BBC should stop trying to say the views are growing week on week. If we take that analogy further. City of Death’s views must be off the chart by now. If you look at historical 28 day ratings, they do not go up by much above the 7 day number. EG the Xmas Special only gained an extra 0.5 million. The Xmas Special got nearly 7.5 million over 7 days. Season 1 has lost over 3.5 million in the 5 months since Xmas. Success it ain’t.

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