Entertainment & Arts

BBC One scores top viewers for 2012

Usain Bolt
Image caption Usain Bolt's Olympic 100m victory was the fourth most-watched programme of the year

A summer of sport helped boost BBC One's viewing figures, giving the channel nine out of the top 10 most watched programmes of the year.

Figures from Barb showed 21.3% of all audiences watched the channel, an increase from 20.7% in 2011.

The Olympics closing ceremony was the most-watched programme, with an average of 24.5 million viewers, followed by the opening ceremony with 24.2 million.

Seven of the top 10 shows were either Olympics or Euro 2012 related.

The only non-BBC One show that made the list was a Euro 2012 match, when 16.2 million tuned in to ITV1 to watch England play Ukraine.

The Diamond Jubilee Concert was the sixth most watched programme, while the Strictly Come Dancing final and results shows were ninth and 10th.

In general, all the main terrestrial channels suffered falls in their audience share, apart from Channel 5 whose all-day share grew from 4.4% to 4.5%.

"Investment in the very best programming ideas continues to pay off for Channel 5 and we're confident that 2013 will be another excellent year for us," a Channel 5 spokesperson told the BBC.

The Paralympic Games opening ceremony was Channel 4's biggest hit of 2012 with an average 7.9 million viewers, peaking at 11.6 million - making it the channel's biggest audience for more than a decade.

But despite good Christmas ratings for animated film The Snowman and The Snowdog and the Homeland finale, its audience share fell from 6.8% to 6.5%.

"Channel 4 has launched more new programmes than any other terrestrial broadcaster in 2012 as part of the ongoing creative renewal of the schedules," a spokesman said.

"Those new commissions have accounted for 72% of the top performing shows of the year and have helped maintain share of viewing across Channel 4's portfolio, despite an unprecedented year of major events on other channels."

The top rated non-sport programme on ITV1 was the Britain's Got Talent final, which attracted 13.1 million viewers, however its share (including ITV1+1) fell from 16.6% to 15.7%.

A spokeswoman told the BBC: "2012 was an extraordinary year for television and amongst that, based on series average - ITV1 broadcast the highest-rating drama in Downton Abbey, the highest-rating soap in Coronation Street and in Britain's Got Talent, the highest-rating entertainment show.

"Of the top five highest-rating programmes that will return this year, three of these series are on ITV1."

Image caption The Britain's Got Talent final was the most-watched non-sport show on ITV1

In relative terms, BBC Two suffered the biggest fall of the main channels with its share dropping from 6.6% to 6.1% - almost half the 11.4% share it had in 2002.

BBC One's gain is the biggest of any channel in the last 10 years and reverses its trend of falling audience share over the past decade.

It's lead over ITV1 (excluding ITV1 +1) is also the biggest since 2002 at 6.4%.

The channel also scored record growth in peak-time viewing, with a 23.5% audience share between 18:00 and 22:30, up 0.9% on the previous year thanks to ratings winners like singing contest The Voice and drama Call the Midwife.

By comparison, ITV1's peak-time share (excluding ITV1+1) was 19.9%, down from 21.2%.

BBC One controller Danny Cohen said the channel's success was "unprecedented".

"I'm proud to say BBC One brought Britain together in 2012, it was at the heart of the UK and the action, but most of all it was the home of the highest quality programmes," he said.

"The Olympics were undoubtedly a centrepiece moment for us but it was 17 days out of 365 and you can't get that growth, and growth in peak, without a strong year overall," he told The Guardian.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites