April 2017 and Series 10 of Doctor Who starts on BBC 1, starring Peter Capaldi in his last appearance as the Doctor. It's been a bit of a sparse year for Who fans, as apart from the Christmas Special "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" (5.68 million Overnights, 7.83 Consolidated, 82 AI), 2016 had no Doctor Who in it, as Series 9 finished in December 2015. Has this 12 month hiatus affected the viewing figures of the programme? Have they gone up or down? Actually the answer to the second question is "yes, they've gone down", but the answer to the first question is "we don't know".
A first glance at the Overnights shows us that they are lower than they've ever been before - on average the overnights for the last 10 episodes is 3.82 million. Series 9 averaged out at 4.27 while Series 8 averaged 5.17. But we know that we live in an age of "Record & Play Later", so let's look at the Final figures. The first thing we notice is the Timeshift is higher than we've seen before - 30%. However that's less than a percent higher than Series 9 (29.3%), so unfortunately this means the Average for the Final viewing figures is also lower than we've seen before - 5.59 million for Series 10.
So, what's caused this drop in figures? Have viewers gotten bored with Doctor Who (as some tabloids seem to think)? Is Capaldi unpopular? Is the show on against another ratings dynamo on ITV? Well, there's an aspect of TV Ratings that I've not looked at before (partly because I took little notice of it, and partly because it's not easy to find information on it), but I'm going to now. It's called Audience Share. Simply put it's the percentage of people watching during your show's timeslot, out of all the people watching TV in total. So let's look at the last episode shown as I write this - "The Eaters of Light". Overnight figures 3.01 million. Network Share of 22%.
Now that's quite a respectable figure, and means that just under 1/4 of the Saturday night TV audience were watching Doctor Who. So those of you with elementary mathematics can quickly work out that if 3.01 million was 22% of the total TV audience...that audience was therefore 13 million.
So 13 million people in the UK were watching TV at the time "Eaters" was broadcast. Let's take a quick look at a couple of other eps from a while back (at least the ones I can find Share figures for!) "Asylum of the Daleks", from Series 7 had Overnights of 6.83 million, and a Share of 29%. Which means 22 million people were watching TV during that timeslot. "The Waters of Mars", on the other hand (from David Tennant's "Specials" year) had Overnights of 9.1 million, and a Share of 33.9%, which means the total TV audience for that slot was 26 million.
So what we're seeing here is a total audience drop across the board, and in fact Doctor Who hasn't lost a great deal of it's share at all. Roughly the same percentage of people are watching the show (and it regularly scores as between the 4th and 6th watched show during it's week). So no wonder the Overnights look poor.
If we pretend for a second that twice as many people were watching TV on the night that "Eaters" was broadcast, but that Doctor Who still got a 22% Share...then the Overnights would have been 6.02 million...which is comparable to the previous two series. Of course until we get the L+7 figures for Series 10, we won't know how many more people are watching Doctor Who on Iplayer, but it will most likely be the same as Series 8 and 9 (between 9% and 14% more viewers watched on catch-up) and possibly more. Expect the X-Axis on the above graph to increase.
Well since i wrote the above, the season finale "The Doctor Falls" has aired. Overnights were 3.75 million and the Share was 25.3%. So only 14.8 million people were watching TV at that time (across all channels, terrestrial, cable and satellite), and just over a quarter of them were watching Doctor Who.
It would appear that as TV Viewing continues to evolve, Doctor Who continues to be watched and appreciated.
-Spacewarp January 2018