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Lockdown helps drive iPlayer to its busiest 24 hours

BBC iPlayer (Philip Toscano/PA)
BBC iPlayer (Philip Toscano/PA)

The lockdown and Boris Johnson’s statement on Sunday helped iPlayer achieve its busiest 24 hours, the BBC has said.

The service received 22.5 million requests to stream or download programmes on May 10, with 1.1 million requests for the Prime Minister’s address, in which he presented his “first sketch of a road map” for restarting the economy and social lives of England.

Since lockdown was announced on March 23, iPlayer has seen 927 million requests – 61% higher than the same seven-week period last year.

Normal People
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne and Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People (Enda Bowe/BBC/PA)

The broadcaster said BBC Three’s hit drama Normal People, which has had more than 28 million requests to date, and the continued popularity of Killing Eve contributed to iPlayer’s most successful week, with 146 million requests between April 27 and May 3.

Normal People, a 12-part adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, stars Cold Feet actress Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne and Paul Mescal in his first television role as Connell.

It has been co-written by Rooney and Alice Birch and was directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for Room, and Hettie Macdonald, who directed the mini-series Howards End.

April was also the biggest month iPlayer has seen, with 564 million requests.

In the first three months of 2020, iPlayer saw a record 1.4 billion requests, up 34% on the same quarter in 2019.

Ruth Jones comments
Gavin And Stacey co-creators James Corden and Ruth Jones (Yui Mok/PA)

Growth was initially driven by viewers consuming news and children’s shows including Bing, Hey Duggee and Numberblocks.

As lockdown continued, demand for drama and comedy grew, with the latest series of Our Girl, Race Across The World, Gavin And Stacey, and Mrs Brown’s Boys performing well on iPlayer.

Controller of BBC iPlayer Dan McGolpin said: “This has been a unique period in our history and I’m pleased that BBC iPlayer has been able to make such a positive contribution to what so many people are watching.

“It’s delivered the latest news whenever we want it, it’s been there for children and grown-ups who need to learn something new and it’s provided a place to escape, whatever the mood.

“From Bitesize Daily to Race Across The World, from Normal People to Killing Eve, people are finding more to watch on BBC iPlayer than ever before.”

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