BBC iPlayer record breaking

BBC iPlayer makes a record start to the year thanks to old and new titles

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BBC iPlayer has seen its best quarter on record with over 1.7 billion streams in the first three months of the year

The BBC’s streaming service has grown 22 per cent on the same period last year, driven by the success of new titles like The Serpent and Bloodlands, returning big hitters including Line of Duty and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and popular box sets like Pretty Little Liars, Spiral and Not Going Out.

The first quarter of 2021 saw a number of records broken:

January is now iPlayer’s most successful month, with 652 million streams

The first full week of that month (4-10 January) was the biggest week ever, with 163 million streams

10 January is BBC iPlayer’s best single day with programmes streamed 26 million times — driven partly by four very popular third round FA Cup matches streaming live on iPlayer, including Marine v Tottenham Hotspur.

There’s a lot to unpick there, and we note the popularity of sport. Even with three (at the time of writing) free to air broadcast channels, the BBC gets accused of overexposing sport (if you’re not a snooker fan, the current schedule is a challenge, similarly the Olympics and Wimbledon saturate the schedules); will there come a time when substantial amounts of sport content move to streaming? It solves a problem in UK with providing bandwidth for 4K over the FreeView infrastructure.

Back to the figures

We like a table here on Cultbox, so here’s the BBC’s own:


Rank Programme Series Episode Streams


The Serpent Episode 1



Line of Duty Series 6 Episode 1



Bloodlands Episode 1



Traces Episode 1



A Perfect Planet Episode 1 – Volcano



Katie Price: Harvey and Me



EastEnders 01/01/2021



Forensics: The Real CSI Series 2 Episode 1



Death in Paradise Series 10 Episode 1



The Terror Go for Broke


Good to see another favourite, Death in Paradise, showing in this list, but it all begs a question. How much of this is people viewing on iPlayer instead of so-called linear viewing (ie as transmitted)? While we applaud the BBC iPlayer success, is it taking traffic away from terrestrial or is it helping defend access to BBC content from the streaming giants?

You can read more in the BBC’s press release.