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BBC iPlayer reports festive surge in users

EastEnders, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Outnumbered and Sherlock were the most popular shows on BBC iPlayer during its biggest ever festive season.

69.3 million requests to watch iPlayer programmes were made during the week commencing 26th December 2016, more than any other week in BBC iPlayer’s history. December was also BBC iPlayer’s best month ever, seeing 281 million requests across the month.

EastEnders fans were responsible for half of the top 20 most popular shows on BBC iPlayer during the festive season, with the New Year’s Day episode the most popular, generating 1.3 million requests.

Of the top ten most-requested episodes per series, the first Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special was second, the Outnumbered Christmas Special third and the return of Sherlock fourth. Other top performing programmes include the Call the Midwife Christmas special, the Doctor Who Christmas special and the first episode of Witness for the Prosecution.

Programmes are on BBC iPlayer for 30 days – so data for programmes still available on BBC iPlayer outside of this period is not included.

According to the BBC, connected TV users drove the majority of requests to the iPlayer, growing 7 per cent on 2015 to reach a weekly average in December of 7.48 million unique browsers. This was followed by tablets at 4.19 million, mobiles at 3.6 million, and computers 3.55 million.

Mobile traffic accessing the live stream of the New Year's celebrations caused an 80 per cent spike around the turn of the year at midnight.

Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer, says: 
“Christmas is always a popular time for people to watch programmes on BBC iPlayer, but it’s fantastic to have had our best ever week in our best ever month over the festive season, with huge numbers coming to iPlayer to see the cliff-hangers of Albert Square, the drama of The Witness for the Prosecution, comedic antics from Mrs Brown’s Boys and the thrilling return of Sherlock.”

Earlier this week, BBC Director General Tony Hall outlined his ambition to make the iPlayer the top online TV destination and to quadruple the number of requests to the service by the next decade.