BBC iPlayer witnessed a surge in viewership during the Christmas week (25-31 Dec 2023), smashing its previous records and setting a new all-time high. Throughout the week, programmes were streamed an unprecedented 177 million times, marking a remarkable +7% increase compared to the same period in the previous year. This feat surpassed the prior record set from 2-8 Jan 23 when 173 million streams were recorded.

In the broader context of the ‘festive fortnight’ (19 Dec 23 – 1 Jan 24), the Christmas Day unveiling of EastEnders’ ‘The Six’ storyline claimed the top spot as the most-watched episode on iPlayer, garnering 2.96 million views. It was closely followed by the climax of the second series of Vigil (2.19 million), Rick Astley’s New Year performance (2.02 million), and popular shows Call the Midwife (2.01 million) and Doctor Who’s Christmas specials (1.79 million).

EastEnders also dominated as the top title on iPlayer during the ‘festive fortnight’ with an impressive 26.28 million streams. Other notable entries in the top ten included Vigil (10.96 million), Doctor Who (from 2005 onwards) (10.01 million), Mrs Brown’s Boys (4.64 million), Death in Paradise (3.98 million), Gavin & Stacey (3.96 million), Call the Midwife (3.85 million), Ghosts (3.82 million), and beloved children’s favourites Bluey (10.42 million) and Hey Duggee (10.12 million).

The BBC also disclosed that New Year’s Day achieved its highest viewership ever during the ‘festive fortnight,’ with a record 29.8 million programme streams on iPlayer. Furthermore, the Christmas week witnessed a substantial 16.5 million BBC accounts logging in to watch programmes on BBC iPlayer, reflecting a noteworthy +5% increase from the previous year.

Of particular significance is the fact that 4.9 million of these accounts belonged to individuals under the age of 35, signifying a notable +7% surge from the previous year. This not only marked the best week ever recorded within a ‘festive fortnight’ but also stood out as the highest week of 2023.

Dan McGolpin, Director of BBC iPlayer and Channels, expressed his delight, stating, “It’s wonderful to see that viewers came to BBC iPlayer in record numbers over the festive period. Nowhere else would they have found the same range of high-quality British programming to keep them gripped, make them laugh or to provide companionship and news at that special time. And with a whole host of compelling drama, comedy, factual programming, entertainment and sport landing on iPlayer in 2024, viewers can look forward to a great year ahead.”

Dan McGolpin, Director of BBC iPlayer and Channels says: “It’s wonderful to see that viewers came to BBC iPlayer in record numbers over the festive period. Nowhere else would they have found the same range of high-quality British programming to keep them gripped, make them laugh or to provide companionship and news at that special time. And with a whole host of compelling drama, comedy, factual programming, entertainment and sport landing on iPlayer in 2024, viewers can look forward to a great year ahead.”

The top 20 episodes per series throughout the ‘festive fortnight’ on BBC iPlayer were:

 Episode nameStreams (millions)
1EastEnders – 25/12/20232.96
2Vigil – Series 2 – Episode 62.19
3Rick Astley Rocks New Year’s Eve – Part 12.02
4Call the Midwife – Christmas Special 20232.01
5Doctor Who 2023 Christmas Special: The Church on Ruby Road1.79
6Murder Is Easy – Series 1 – Episode 11.52
7Death in Paradise – Christmas Special 20231.45
8Match of the Day – 23/12/20231.36
9Mrs Brown’s Boys – 2023 Specials – Mammy’s Mare1.34
10Strictly Come Dancing – Series 21 – Christmas Special1.16
11Tabby McTat – The Animated Adventure1.15
12Beyond Paradise – Christmas Special1.12
13Ghosts – A Christmas Gift1.11
14New Year’s Eve Fireworks – 2023/20241.01
15The King – 20230.88
16Charles III: The Coronation Year0.87
17Toy Story 40.76
18Not Going Out – Wilfred0.76
19Jools’ Annual Hootenanny – 2023/240.74
20The Graham Norton Show – Series 31 – New Year’s Eve Show0.73

The top 20 programme brands throughout the ‘festive fortnight’ on BBC iPlayer were:

 ProgrammeStreams (millions)
1EastEnders26.28
2Vigil10.96
3Bluey10.42
4Hey Duggee10.12
5Doctor Who (2005+)10.01
6Mrs Brown’s Boys4.64
7Death in Paradise3.98
8Gavin & Stacey3.96
9Call the Midwife3.85
10Ghosts3.82
11Match of the Day3.79
12Bing3.76
13Two Doors Down3.58
14Shetland3.07
15BBC News3.06
16Yakka Dee!3.01
17Numberblocks2.97
18Breakfast2.93
19Rick Astley Rocks New Year’s Eve2.93
20Kin2.89