Doctor Who Audience Figures

Dave

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#1
Okay. I'm seeing a lot of people telling me that Doctor Who is ****! That they once used to be its biggest fan, but that they never watch it anymore because of X & Y. Except that they must watch it, otherwise, how do they even know about X & Y?

I'm probably on Twitter way too much, because most of it happens there (and they are all probably Russian bots just trying to undermine the very fabric of our very Britishness.) Next they will tell us Fish and Chips, Tea and Chicken Tikka Massala weren't invented here either, and that other countries play Cricket and Football better than we do.

Anyway, this denigrating of Science Fiction TV shows is something that @Cathbad has been on about in the Star Trek and Star Wars forums for years now. He says something along the lines of how can you be a real fan if you hate everything about it. I must admit, I felt fully able to be a real fan and still criticise Star Trek. And I will never like Jar Jar Binks! I don't think I ever said I hated everything about Star Trek anyway.

However, these Doctor Who "fans" actually DO hate everything it stands for - the "female" Doctor, the "liberal attitudes", the "politically correct" stories - and most of all, "when did it stop being sci-fi and become historical?" to which many people immediately pointed out was in 1963, in series 1, episode 2, when they met the Cavemen. Sidney Neuman's original brief was to have a historical series to educate children, and there were to be absolutely "NO bug-eyed monsters", which is technically correct in the case of the Daleks as they don't have any eyes.

However, that doesn't seem to matter to those who would denigrate. Their evidence that the show has seriously deteriorated is often provided by the "falling audience figures." This isn't only on Twitter. Several people here have also talked frequently about the "falling audience figures". Sorry, to pick on any one person, but here is an example:

I used to be a Who fan, but haven't watched this series beyond a bit of the first episode, but I keep looking at reviews and reactions of people who keep watching. And now news of the tv ratings are dropping.

It's political correctness rubbish, the alien villains don't seem to be that menacing and the PC message applied with a sledgehammer and the stories themselves seem to be forgettable.

And today's episode is about the British Raj...I squirm to think how the PC production team are going to turn the British rulers are going to be a worse threat than the supposed 'demons' of the story title.
So, I thought, is the audience actually falling?

My anecdotal gut feeling is that more children are watching, given some comments I've read on social media. The people denigrating it are always much older, and it is meant to be a children's show, even if the 16-30 year-old audience for it is larger. So, is it all just more Fake News?

Here are the figures for every series from the beginning to the last: I'm not sure they are comparable given the changes in technology, population and TV audience in general, but interesting anyhow.
Doctor Who Ratings Audience Viewing Figures

These are the modern series figures: They show a more general decline with the last series being the lowest since it began again in 2005.




Here are the figures for the present series:

2018 Episode Ratings
Overnight Consolidated AI
Episode 1 8.2m 10.54m 83
Episode 2 7.11m 8.67m 82
Episode 3 6.39m 8.09m 83
Episode 4 6.43m 7.97m 83
Episode 5 6.12m 7.49m 79
Episode 6 5.77m TBC TBC
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9
Finale

So, the audience is falling off as this Season continues, but only down from a very high starting point. At present, they are still well above the average for last year and as high as they ever were since the relaunch in 2005. Obviously, there is a falling trend, and if that continued then the average for the whole season could be lower, but it is never likely to fall below the 2015 and 2017 averages. What's more the AI is very acceptable. This is certainly not evidence of a show in any kind of trouble.

Verdict: Fake News
 

reiver33

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#2
At the risk of attracting flak, the average for the series so far is 6.67m, which is under that for the first in the Capaldi era, and series 4 (final Tennant) was the only one to buck the trend of steady decline. However, I feel that shouting "It's in trouble" and "It's not in trouble" simply adds to the polarisation and we should wait until the series is complete before assessing its worth.

Having said that, the cynical side of me believes the new gender will guarantee a second series, regardless of viewing figures. I agree that this incarnation has reverted to being more 'kids TV', and I suspect some of the backlash (or at least disappointment) lies with the adult audience who were used to something more mature.
 

BAYLOR

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#3
I like Jodi Whittaker, she's quite believable as the Doctor and Chris Chibnal has done a great Job as executive producer. Writing and Production excellent. When all is said and done this probably going end being the better seasons of Dr Who.:cool:(y)
 

AlexH

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#4
The new (for this series) time-slot generally has higher viewing figures doesn't it? And it's the first time Doctor Who hasn't been shifted around the schedules for years, which also helps. I seem to remember it being on any time between 5pm and 7pm at some point.

I think percentage of audience share is a more realistic figure to use (look how much X-Factor has dropped). People's viewing habits (particularly the younger generations) have changed dramatically. I find myself using catchup rather a lot recently. with ease of access on iPlayer, UKTV Play etc. and not remembering or knowing when a TV series starts. I wanted to watch Michael Palin's North Korea series but missed it completely. When I checked if it'd been broadcast, it had, a month previous. It was still available to watch online though.

There's also the binge-watch culture. I wonder if many people will watch it all on catchup, rather than watching week-by-week?
 

Edward M. Grant

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#5
Hopefully I'm wrong, but I kind of feel it's running out of ideas, like they did in the late 80s when it was originally sent out to pasture before the 2005 reboot. The whole 'female Doctor' thing brought people back for a few episodes, but we'll have to see whether it lasts.

Given the comments from the people making the show about not having ideas for Christmas stories and maybe taking a break, I can't help but feel she may turn out to be the last Doctor.
 

Brian G Turner

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#6
The problem - IMO - isn't the current season, but the seasons preceding it. What the viewing figures show is a gradual loss of faith in the series (specifically, the writing). Unless they'd picked someone extraordinary for the current lead, it was almost certainly going to show a decline anyway. The big thing to look for is a change in the trend. Frankly, I think it would have taken something extraordinary to reverse it quickly.
 

Dave

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#7
There's also the binge-watch culture. I wonder if many people will watch it all on catchup, rather than watching week-by-week?
That is included in the "Consolidated" figure. The "Overnight" is the people watching immediately. That is why I said the comparison with figures from long ago is difficult to make. Neither figure will include those watching it pirated, or recorded and then distributed on some media (which is how many people in poor countries watch TV.)

At the risk of attracting flak, the average for the series so far is 6.67m.
Only if you take the "Overnight" figure, otherwise it is higher as I said. However, to follow my argument to logical conclusions then one ought to take into consideration VHS and DVD sales of original episodes, and in which case, some of the early stories will never get beaten.

It still isn't a TV programme that has any viewing figure "worries."
 

Matteo

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#8
Can't say I'm surprised at those figures for the last Capaldi series; that was very weak. Interesting to see the high figures for the "classic" Who - and look at Tom Baker's stats! Although what the hell happened in series 18? Average for 17 was 11.2m, 18 was 5.8!!

I doubt we've seen the end of Who; the viewing figures are not that low (although are the "Tardis" graphs the overnight or consolidated stats?)

I keep watching because I'm a Dr Who fan. I started with Robot and never missed an episode until I stopped watching some time during Colin Baker's tenure. I thought the tv movie was terrible so didn't bother with "New Who" until I started hearing good thing about Tennant (second series I think) and have watched all of the new ones and enjoyed most of them (although the Capaldi run was more miss than hit). And I've since watched all the Pertwee episodes which were great.

I've stayed watching the latest series despite, in my opinion, it being weak because I'm a fan and am hoping it will get better. I'm certainly not going to comment on something I haven't seen. Obviously the writers are taking a less dark and less adult approach* (and writing less "involved/complicated" stories) and are gearing it more towards children. As an adult, I think this is a shame but I can see their reasoning. However, I also think that the messages they seem to be making a deliberate attempt to promote could be, and are, dealt with in other programme - they seem out of place in Dr Who.

*a controversial suggestion...is this because Dr Who is now a woman? In other words, did they decide to change (his) gender and then take a conscious decision to make the stories lighter? That would be a bit sexist, no? I'm hoping it's a coincidence and hoping that the next series (I doubt later episodes of this one) is darker and gives Jodie a chance to really show her stuff.
 

thaddeus6th

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#9
Dave, I stopped watching (after being an intermittent viewer) early on in Capaldi's time. I really liked the actor and the cantankerous old man approach but the writing left me cold.

Apart from Nyssa-Vex's hair being even nicer, I didn't have a problem with the female Doctor and liked the first episode more than I thought I would (wasn't perfect, but exceeded my expectations). But the second one didn't interest me, and the third/fourth clashed with F1, and nothing really drew me back. Reading episode threads here suggest that was the right call. If the writing's not there, that's that.

On PC stuff: can't comment too much as two episodes isn't enough, but the first had (beyond main characters) wimpy white guy who was also a borderline murderer, depending on how you saw things, and incompetent grumpy white guy who had to be rescued by the Doctor then persuaded by noble rival woman to do the right thing (must be said the right thing made no bloody sense as Art Malik's despotic rally impresario could've just stranded them... but that's back to writing).

After ads being run about smashing the glass ceiling (I'm sure Ripley, Sam Carter, Janeway et al. will all be delighted to hear women can now have roles in sci-fi), it's fair enough if others look at episodes through that demographic prism. Indeed, the stories appear, from secondhand reading, to do that on purpose. There's Rosa Parks, and the partition of India. I look forward to an episode about Barbary pirates.

Edward, some of the best New Who moments have been with new villains, particularly The Silence and the Weeping Angels (who did become a bit overused). Older villains I think they cocked up to a greater or lesser extent. Beyond Toothface, have there been any memorable villains so far this series?
 

Bagpuss

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#11
If you go and look at the Doctor Who audience figures since 2005 you find a consistent trend. Each series starts with reasonably high figures and then they drop. Eccleston lost 4m over the course of his series, Tennant lost 3m in his first year, Smith lost 3.5m over his first season and Capaldi lost 2.5m viewers in his first year.

So, it's not exactly a surprise that the viewing figures for this season have dropped.

The other thing is that viewing figures are not the whole of the story. You also have to look at where the programme sits in the uk TV charts. Episode 1 of this series was number 1 for the week. The last time that happened was the 50th anniversary special in 2013. The rest of the episodes haven't repeated that feat but nevertheless all of the episodes so far have ranked in the weekly top 10. The last time Doctor Who got 5 episodes in a row in the top 10 was the season with David Tennant and Catherine Tate (and that season turned out to be the show's most successful so far with an average of 8.05m viewers). Eccleston's season averaged 17th, Smith's debut season averaged 12th and Capaldi's latest season averaged outside the top 20 in the charts. So far, Whittaker's season is averaging 8.55m viewers (based on the consolidated figures) and sits in an average position of 4th in the charts. If it maintains that average to the end of the season (which admittedly is a big "if"), then that would make it the most successful Doctor Who season since the re-launch in 2005.

Weekly figures are not yet available for "Demons of the Punjab". However, the only show on UK tv channels on Sunday night that was watched more than Doctor Who was the Strictly Come Dancing results show. That would suggest that by the time the weekly figures are in then the show will have another episode with a top-10 placing.

So, the tabloids, twitter and sci-fi fans may be screaming about declining viewers and pc-plots. But in terms of the general tv audience, the facts at the half-way point of the season suggest that the show is in better health than it has been in years.
 

Mirannan

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#12
Dave, I stopped watching (after being an intermittent viewer) early on in Capaldi's time. I really liked the actor and the cantankerous old man approach but the writing left me cold.

Apart from Nyssa-Vex's hair being even nicer, I didn't have a problem with the female Doctor and liked the first episode more than I thought I would (wasn't perfect, but exceeded my expectations). But the second one didn't interest me, and the third/fourth clashed with F1, and nothing really drew me back. Reading episode threads here suggest that was the right call. If the writing's not there, that's that.

On PC stuff: can't comment too much as two episodes isn't enough, but the first had (beyond main characters) wimpy white guy who was also a borderline murderer, depending on how you saw things, and incompetent grumpy white guy who had to be rescued by the Doctor then persuaded by noble rival woman to do the right thing (must be said the right thing made no bloody sense as Art Malik's despotic rally impresario could've just stranded them... but that's back to writing).

After ads being run about smashing the glass ceiling (I'm sure Ripley, Sam Carter, Janeway et al. will all be delighted to hear women can now have roles in sci-fi), it's fair enough if others look at episodes through that demographic prism. Indeed, the stories appear, from secondhand reading, to do that on purpose. There's Rosa Parks, and the partition of India. I look forward to an episode about Barbary pirates.

Edward, some of the best New Who moments have been with new villains, particularly The Silence and the Weeping Angels (who did become a bit overused). Older villains I think they cocked up to a greater or lesser extent. Beyond Toothface, have there been any memorable villains so far this series?
For an episode mentioning Barbary pirates, don't hold your breath waiting. It would be difficult to do that without mentioning the reason for their piracy. Not PC enough for the Biased Bulls**t Corporation.
 

AlexH

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#13
I don't think they're running out of ideas @Edward M. Grant - I just think some episides in the current series haven't been executed well (I haven't seen the latest yet). I agree with @Brian G Turner about the gradual loss of faith - I liked Capaldi but too many episodes were average.

That is included in the "Consolidated" figure. The "Overnight" is the people watching immediately. That is why I said the comparison with figures from long ago is difficult to make. Neither figure will include those watching it pirated, or recorded and then distributed on some media (which is how many people in poor countries watch TV.)
I meant binge-watching multiple episodes at once, long after original broadcast. @Bagpuss did a better job than me at explaining more appropriate stats to use when deciding how well (or not) the series is doing.

Also, the UK is one of many markets for Doctor Who. It does well worldwide so it's not going to be axed just because the UK figures drop a couple of million (not that anyone here said it was going to be axed!).
 

Bagpuss

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#15
Ok, so the viewing figures for "Demons of the Punjab" are finalised and it finished 9th, with 7.23m viewers (consolidated figure).

To put that in context, the only programmes that beat Doctor Who were the Strictly Come Dancing live show (1st - 11.39m) and results show (2nd - 9.61m), the David Attenborough-narrated "Dynasties" (7th - 7.38m) and 5 episodes of Coronation Street (which is a soap opera that airs 6 episodes per week).

That's probably going to be the end of the show's top-10 run, though, because "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here" has just started airing on ITV and it's overnight figures for Sunday are over 11m - it will quite possibly beat Strictly. It's on every night of the week for the next three weeks or so and it's likely that the programme will feature heavily in the top-10 for as long as it's on.
 

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#16
I haven't watched a whole episode of Doctor Who since the early Matt Smith days. I find an odd five minute peek (I've peeked once this series) is enough to remind me that I have a total lack of interest in the show and that it's just not for me anymore.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not about PC gone mad (I don't know if it has or not), female doctors, scripts, effects or anything apart from the fact that it no longer does anything for me. I've simply lost that Whovian spirit. It kind of reminds me of the time as a youngster when I came to the conclusion that there is no God.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#17
In fairness to the Whovian fan club, I'm not sure evidence of falling viewing figures are correct or relavent.

In it's heyday (pre the modern era, Eccleston et al) there was only three channels available to watch.

ITV and BBC1. Even BBC2 was late to the party and let's be honest it was a few years before people were prepared to invest in 625 line TV so for years that didn't really count either.

So the choice was simple. Some ITV spectacular - variety show or something with a bit of a story line that would challenge the 12 to 17 years olds with a bit of SF.

So we watched and with the benefit of nostalgic rose tints we remember it as good.

In fact it was awful at times. The Toymaker was it? How long did that go on for - months or was it half a lifetime. Yet still we watched because the alternative was playing outside in the rain or something your parents wanted. Fortunately the BBC had the sense to put it on early so that we could watch it while they (Mother - times were different) made the tea.

So in those days audiences were skewed and more importantly immediate. Nowadays I suspect there will be some that watch the series in two months time in a binge session. Watch on NFX in a year or any number of other options that don't get counted in the figures.

Plus we now have access to hundreds of alternatives.

I feel it's a testament to the program that it has such high viewing figures.

Don't get me wrong, I would improve the story lines and have more 2-3 week cliff hanger episodes and try to stop relying on overused props, but even I have to admit it must have something that other people see to retain such loyal fans.
 

Dave

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#18
In fairness to the Whovian fan club, I'm not sure evidence of falling viewing figures are correct or relavent.
Well, that's what this thread is all about. That's why it is in the title.

In yesterday's Metro newspaper the assertion was made yet again. In an article about Jodie Whittaker, they printed that viewing figures had fallen from her initial episode, using that as some kind of measure on her performance, but completely failing to mention that that particular episode had viewing figures higher than any other for many years, or that current viewing figures for every episode are among the top ten UK TV programmes. That's from a newspaper, not even anyone with an axe to grind, but I'm not sure it is merely poor journalism and fact checking, it appears to be part of some campaign.
 

Anthoney

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#19
US ratings for Doctor Who went up this week.

It's impossible to accurately compare currents ratings with Classic Who. Even going back to 2005 is hard because the market has changed so much. There's way more choice in what and how to watch plus a world wide audience to taking into account.
 

Ursa major

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#20
In fact it was awful at times. The Toymaker was it? How long did that go on for - months or was it half a lifetime.
Some good news for you: three of the four episodes of The Clelestial Toymaker are missing.

Oh, and one of its co-writers was a certain Mr Tosh....
 

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