Who won the TV ratings war this Christmas…
This article titled “Downton Abbey beats EastEnders to festive top spot in consolidated ratings” was written by Tara Conlan, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 3rd January 2012 17.11 UTC
Downton Abbey has leapfrogged EastEnders to become the most-watched TV show over the festive period, after newly released figures show that an additional 3.5 million viewers chose to record the ITV1 drama and watched it after it aired on Christmas Day.
BBC1′s EastEnders won the battle for the title of the most-watched show on Christmas Day – for the third year in a row – easily beating the Julian Fellowes costume drama into fourth spot by almost 2 million viewers. The shows went head-to-head at 9pm on Christmas Day.
However, the BBC’s victory has been short-lived following the release of new figures from the official TV measurement body, Barb, which includes so-called “timeshift” viewing by households who have recorded shows in the seven days after first transmission on personal video recorders such as Sky+.
Downton Abbey’s Christmas Day audience was 8.1 million, well behind EastEnders’ 9.9 million, but consolidated figures show that 3.5 million viewers caught up with the ITV1 show later in the festive period.
In total 11.6 million viewers watched the Christmas Day episode of Downton Abbey within seven days.
This compares with EastEnders which saw its consolidated audience rise to 11.3 million, after timeshift viewing added about 1.5 million to its total audience.
During the last series of Downton Abbey fans complained to ITV about the number of commercials that ran during the programme, so that may have prompted some viewers to record the programme so they could skip the adverts.
Barb’sconsolidated seven day viewing figures are a mixed blessing for ITV, with Coronation Street dropping to fourth place, down a spot from the original Christmas Day viewing figures, thanks to Downton’s popularity on catchup TV.
Coronation Street pulled in 9.3 million viewers live on Christmas Day, and a total of 10.5 million after recorded and catchup viewing is included.
BBC1′s Doctor Who also drops a spot, to fourth, after originally notching up a Christmas Day audience of 8.9 million.
A total of 10.8 million caught Doctor Who over the festive period, according to Barb’s consolidated viewing figures.
BBC1′s Absolutely Fabulous fared better when recordings are taken into account, with almost 2 million choosing to watch it on another day, putting it in fifth place with 9.1 million. An audience of 7.4 million originally tuned in to catch it live.
Every Boxing Day, Barb releases “overnight” ratings for Christmas Day, which are official figures but, according to Barb, “are not the final figures as exact programme timings will not have been incorporated and timeshifted viewing remains to be added”.
With the rise in personal recording devices such as Sky+ and online players such as BBC iPlayer, some shows can see a huge rise in viewing figures as word of mouth spreads about a programme.
Earlier this year, Sky drama Mad Dogs saw a total linear audience of 817,000 for its live premiere across satellite and cable.
But when looking at the consolidated numbers across a seven-day period, the total audience was more than 2.2 million.
• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email email@example.com or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010