The Live +7 figures for Series 9 are now available from the BBC.
The figures, which are calculated by the BBC to try to get an accurate estimate of the total unique audience for an episode of a programme, differ from the BARB statistics as they include those who watched one of the broadcast repeats of the episode and those who watched the episode on iPlayer all within 7 days of the original transmission.
An average of 60% of fans watch the show on the day of transmission, either as a Live broadcast or as a delayed viewing via a PVR. As expected the number is slightly higher for the series finale and the Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.
A further 26% of the audience watch the programme, via a recording, within 7 days of the original transmission – with the highest delayed viewership going to The Zygon Invasion.
Only around 11% on average watch via the iPlayer, although this dropped to less than half that figure for the Christmas special.
Another clear sign of changing viewing habits was the sharp drop in viewers who watched the scheduled repeat on BBC Three. Figures fell from 4% to just 1.3% last year – resulting in the BBC pulling the repeat after episode four.
The only other scheduled repeat was the late night signed version on BBC Two, which had an average of 40,000 viewers
Overall Doctor Who‘s total Live +7 ratings are down around 1.5 million on the 2014 figures, to average a total of around 6.7 million watching each episode.
So what’s to be gleaned from these figures?
Well that 60% figure for Live broadcasts is widely open to interpretation; there’s no clear indication of how much of that 60% was divided between Live and PVR or what the delay amounts to. It has to be less than 7 days but that leaves a lot of time between the Live broadcast and the catch-up period.
There’s also a lack of definition between delayed viewing via PVR and the other 26% who on average watched via a ‘recording’. Also, which category does that 11% of those that viewed each episode via the iPlayer either Live or via the 7 day catch up series fall under?
It’s tempting to view the general fluidity of viewers as a symptom of improved viewing habits and the apparent inflexibility of the measuring system but there’s something else at play here too. You could argue that the seven day measurement is arbitrary considering that each episodes air time changed remarkably from week to week – resulting in a greater need for PVR viewings and, of course, the iPlayer.
What do you make of the figures? Is air time the deciding factor? When should the show air when it returns for a full regular series?