The final official numbers for Village of the Angels arrived this week. Plus there’s the official iPlayer 2021 Top Ten
BARB have released the official +28 viewing figures for the fourth chapter of Doctor Who: Flux. After four weeks, 5.01m viewers have now watched Village of the Angels. That’s down 0.22m (4%) from the previous week’s Once, Upon Time. It’s aided by the strongest time-shift for Flux yet. Its 1.56m catch up viewings is an increase of 45.2% on the episode’s original overnights. It seems word of it being one of this series’ strongest episodes, along with the striking image of its cliffhanger, compelled many viewers to check out the Weeping Angels’ return for themselves.
This strong time-shift also moves Village of the Angels two places up from its initial chart result. It’s now at #16 for the week, meaning Flux is shaping up to one of Doctor Who’s strongest years since the 28 day chart was introduced in 2017, with an average chart position of #12. Only Jodie Whittaker’s first series looks more impressive so far, staying in the Top 5 for most of its run.
Doctor Who wins a place in the iPlayer 2021 Top Ten
Meanwhile, as well as Village of the Angels’ +28 number, this week also saw the BBC releasing the official iPlayer Top Ten for 2021. This represents all streams of a given show this year via the BBC’s iPlayer platform. Doctor Who was the #7 most streamed show of 2021, with 41.8m views.
iPlayer Top Ten 2021
- Line of Duty 137.1m
- Olympics 90.2m
- Pretty Little Liars 79.9m
- EUFA Euros 68.2m
- Silent Witness 62.3m
- Waterloo Road 45.3m
- Doctor Who 41.8m
- Death in Paradise 39.7m
- The Serpent 35.4m
- RuPaul’s Drag Race UK 33.3m
It’s worth noting that these streaming views include all episodes for each show. Line of Duty’s gargantuan result, for instance, is no doubt partly down to the hype around the final series inspiring people to watch it all from the beginning. And Doctor Who’s result, likewise, includes streams of all thirteen series. Regardless, not only will with this year’s new episodes, from Revolution of the Daleks to The Vanquishers make up a healthy chunk of that number, but it speaks to the general continued interest in Doctor Who as a format and show.
A useful comparison may be the case of Waterloo Road, which originally ran from 2006 to 2015. That’s now been commissioned for a revival, apparently on the strength of the response to the existing episodes on iPlayer. And with Doctor Who’s iPlayer streams representing only about half of its total viewship this year, when television airings are included, it’s clear there’s still a massive appetite for the Time Lord’s adventures.
The New TV Normal: Doctor Who, Squid Game and Marvel
On the subject of streaming, this is a good opportunity to assess how Doctor Who shapes up next to the new media competition. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime are notoriously secretive about their exact viewing figures. But we do have some hints thanks to the BARB Top 100. As of October, BARB have begun including the big streaming platforms in their Top 100 shows of the month. Runaway global hit Squid Game’s most streamed episode in October, VIPs, was seen by 5.9m British viewers. That’s compared to 6.4m viewers for Doctor Who’s only episode of October, The Halloween Apocalypse.
We might also hazard a guess that the total views of Squid Game’s nine episodes in the UK in its first month was somewhere in the region of 55m. Meanwhile the total +28 day number for Doctor Who’s seven new episodes of 2021 likely to finish on around 40m. That’s a good result for being benchmarked against the year’s most celebrated phenomenon.
Meanwhile, we only have American viewing figures for the Marvel shows on Disney+ but even they are substantially smaller than Doctor Who’s UK audience
Meanwhile, we know that nothing on Amazon Prime made it into the Top 100 for October, and on Disney+ only the Black Widow movie made the cut with 2.3m viewers. We can’t yet really assess the impact of the regular Marvel shows, however, with only a couple of episodes of What If? dropping in October. However, we know that the Hawkeye premiere was seen by 1.5m viewers in America its opening week, a market five times the size of the UK. And that compares to 1.6m for the premiere of WandaVision’s, 1.8m for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and 2.5m for Loki.
We can’t directly compare these numbers to Doctor Who’s but we can tentatively conclude that even with the most generous assumptions – that these shows’ British viewership is as big as the American one, that there’s no drop off at all across the series – then Doctor Who: Flux’s audience has been 2-3 times the size of a typical Marvel TV show.
As Doctor Who continues to hold its own in an ever changing world, its future seems assured
None of this is to minimize the impact and importance of these shows. Rather, it’s an indicator that the definition of ‘success’ for TV drama has massively shifted in recent years. The rise of streaming platform has fractured and shrunk traditional television audiences. Yet it would seem that despite that, among science fiction dramas, Doctor Who is still king in the UK.
Next week, we’ll have the final viewing figures for penultimate episode of Doctor Who: Flux, Survivors of the Flux. We’ll also take a look at shrinking audiences of the past few years, seeing how much of its audience Doctor Who has held on to, compared to other big hitters like EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing.
Note: Originally this article didn’t clarify that the US numbers were for those viewing Disney+ via Samba TV. Samba TV only accounts for approximately 20% of the platform’s total US reach, but numbers for the remainder have never been made public.
Doctor Who will return on New Year’s Day with Eve of the Daleks on BBC One at 7pm and on BBC America and AMC+ in the US
Sarah (Aisling Bea) owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick (Adjani Salmon) is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned as they find themselves joining forces with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz in a fight against the Daleks.