Drop-off in BBC First audiences

17 August, 2014 by Don Groves

BBC Worldwide’s first premium drama channel isn’t pulling vast numbers on Foxtel, at least measured by the average audiences in prime-time.

Launched on August 3, BBC First ranked at No. 1 on Foxtel’s drama and lifestyle tier, with an overall reach of 350,000 viewers on that day.


Since then, the number of viewers who watch the channel live has steadily declined. “After quite modest launch numbers, the audience has trended down,” Fusion Strategy’s Steve Allen told IF last Friday. “I cannot see this being a money-spinner or a subscriber magnet.”

Fusion’s analysis shows that live viewing fell from a prime-time peak of 18,000 on the Sunday in the metro areas and 23,000 nationally to 6,000/8,000 on the following Thursday and 4,000/5,000 on Saturday.

“In Week 1, BBC First was #30 most popular peak night viewed channel on All People and #52 in 16-54,” its report says. “There is a lot of time shifted viewing, so Live Average Audiences increase by about 75%. This is not earth shattering.

“Average Peak Audiences have declined in Week 2 to date, off quite seriously. So they came, they saw, they left.  And quite a large population have not come back.”

Among the most –watched shows have been The Musketeers, Peaky Blinders. The Fear, The Village, Women in Love and The Politician’s Husband.

A BBC Worldwide spokeswoman dismisses that analysis, telling IF, “We’re thrilled with the engagement that BBC First has had with its audience in the short amount of time it has been on air.

“We don’t base our success on metropolitan city live audience ratings. We program our channel for Foxtel customers, who like to watch programs at a time that suits them and therefore consolidated accumulative national figures are a far better measure of ratings success.”