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BBC celebrates drama boost for the iPlayer

Three months of strong growth for the iPlayer, led by drama catch-ups, have culminated in the BBC reporting its best ever quarter for the on-demand service.

In the corporation's latest report, it confirmed that 19 of the top 20 most popular BBC iPlayer episodes were drama programmes in March, which was the BBC streaming service’s third best month on record.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace - American Crime Story was the BBC iPlayer’s most popular programme in March.

The first episode of the hit US drama, starring Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin and Darren Criss, saw 1.6 million requests to take the top spot in March.

315 million programmes were viewed in March, up 15 per cent on the same month last year, with 10.2 million daily requests. The month sits just behind January 2018 (328 million) and December 2017 (327 million). Together with a strong performance in February, meant the first three months of 2018 were the best the iPlayer has seen to date. Back then, drama also led the way, with high demand for critically acclaimed McMafia.

March also saw drama fans captivated by the thrilling conclusion of Carey Mulligan-starring Collateral, with 1.2 million requests for the final episode, while JK Rowling’s Strike: Career of Evil also proved popular with 1.1 million requests. Call the Midwife’s seventh series also drew big numbers, with almost 1 million requests for the final episode.

Dan McGolpin, controller of programming and daytime for the BBC, commented:
“Drama continues to have an extraordinary year on BBC iPlayer. Building on a brilliant January and February, this month drama fans were treated to captivating US drama like The Assassination of Gianni Versace as well as world-class British programmes like Collateral, Strike and the ever-brilliant Call the Midwife. And after the short month in Feb the stats are back to the great performance we saw over Christmas and New Year, with our best March ever and our third best month on record, making for our strongest first quarter ever.”