The Glastonbury Festival, one of the most anticipated music events of the year, captivated audiences both on-site and across the nation with its stellar lineup and unforgettable performances. As an estimated 200,000 festival goers revelled in the live music across various stages, a staggering 21.6 million people, accounting for over a third of the UK population, tuned in to the BBC’s Glastonbury TV coverage. The extensive broadcast, comprising over 40 hours of linear programming, provided an exceptional viewing experience for music enthusiasts. Notably, this year’s audience witnessed a notable 7% increase compared to the previous year’s figures on linear television.
On Sunday night, the legendary Elton John took centre stage, enthralling the crowd and delivering a headline set that will be etched in Glastonbury history. His performance aired on BBC One, achieved the highest-ever overnight audience for a Glastonbury set. With a peak overnight audience of 7.6 million viewers within a span of just five minutes and an average of 7.3 million viewers, equating to an impressive 48.9% audience share, Elton John’s brilliance resonated with millions across the nation. Furthermore, his captivating show was simulcast on BBC Radio 2, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Sounds, ensuring that fans had various avenues to experience the magic of his performance.
Reflecting on the grand finale, Lorna Clarke, the Director of Music at the BBC, expressed her elation, stating, “What an incredible way to end this year’s Glastonbury festival! Elton John’s set will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most epic performances ever to light up the Pyramid Stage and was watched by a record 7.6 million people on BBC One. I’m so delighted the BBC and our superb teams were able to share every bit of the magic from Worthy Farm during the weekend with audiences at home.”
In addition to Elton John’s mesmerising spectacle, other Glastonbury headliners garnered substantial viewership figures. The Artic Monkeys’ electrifying Friday night set, broadcast on BBC One for the first time, recorded a peak audience of 2.6 million viewers in a five-minute interval, with an average of 1.5 million viewers. Saturday’s headliner, Guns N’ Roses, attracted a peak audience of 2.1 million on BBC Two, with an average viewership of 1 million. Saturday’s Pyramid Stage performances by Lewis Capaldi and Lizzo garnered a peak BBC One audience of 2.4 million viewers and an average of 2.3 million viewers.
Furthermore, the Legends program, featuring Yusuf/Cat Stevens on Sunday, achieved the highest BBC Two viewership this year. The performance received a peak audience of 3 million viewers in a five-minute span, with an average of 2.3 million viewers. The BBC One show, featuring Rick Astley and Blondie, amassed a peak audience of 2.5 million viewers and an average of 2.1 million viewers.
The BBC, as Glastonbury Festival’s exclusive multimedia broadcast partner following a recent multi-year extension, ensured that the festival’s magic reached a wider audience than ever before. The 2023 edition witnessed an increase in live coverage, with a record number of hours dedicated to broadcasting on BBC One and additional programming leading up to the event. This included an updated version of “Glastonbury: 50 Years and Counting” and an extensive collection of content available on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer. Emphasising accessibility, the BBC live-streamed Pyramid Stage performances for the first time in British Sign Language, ensuring inclusivity for all viewers.
Expressing gratitude to Emily and Michael Eavis, the masterminds behind Glastonbury, for their collaboration, the BBC Director of Music, Lorna Clarke, remarked, “Our thanks once again go to Emily and Michael Eavis, for allowing the BBC to bring their treasured festival to so many music fans throughout the weekend and beyond.”
Lorna Clarke, as the BBC Director of Music, commissions Glastonbury for television and radio, with BBC Studios Music Productions responsible for the festival’s TV coverage. The Executive Producer, Alison Howe, and the Commissioning Editor, Jonathan Rothery, BBC Head of Popular Music TV, played pivotal roles in delivering an exceptional viewing experience to audiences across the nation.