Right. It's 2015 and Doctor Who Series 9 premiered in the UK on the 19th September. It's the second series featuring Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, and how are things going so far? Well "The Magician's Apprentice" garnered 4.54 Million viewers on the night, the lowest viewers for the first story of a new series. The internet and certain tabloids immediately went into meltdown (worryingly gleeful in some cases) and everyone began predicting the cancellation of the show. Was this caused by the later time-slot? Peter Capaldi's older, craggy 12th Doctor? Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald? Steven Moffat's secret desire to run the show into the ground?
Two things need to be taken into account here. Firstly Doctor Who was scheduled up against the Rugby World Cup, a live sporting event. Secondly as we have already noticed in the Timeshift section, the number of viewers recording Doctor Who to watch later has been steadily increasing since 2005. The Final viewing figures, released a week later, bear this out. 6.54 Million viewers watched over the space of the next week. That's 30% of them (1.96 Million) choosing to record and watch later. So how does 6.54 Million compare to previous series openers? Well most of them seem to be up in the 8 Million bracket. But before we write off Doctor Who, take a look at the figures for Series 8. OK, "Deep Breath" topped 9 Million, but then that was a "New Doctor" introduction, so let's look at the rest of that series. Hmmm...they all seem to be lower.
But from Series 8 onwards we now have a third set of viewing figures - the L+7 figure, which comprises viewers watching on BBC iPlayer. During Series 8 I speculated that this might be why the Final figures were lower, because when we included iPlayer we saw the usual expected figures of 7-8 Million. It appeared that Doctor Who wasn't gaining new viewers, but it wasn't losing it's core of 7-8 Million either, and about 1 Million of them had now moved over to internet viewing. However, Series 9 has been over for several months now, and the L+7 figures are finally in, so how has Series 9 done?
Well, the first story, "The Magician's Apprentice" gained another 2 Million viewers, bringing it back up to a typical 7-8 million viewer level for a Doctor Who story. It's difficult to compare this accurately to other Season openers, especially since this is the first non-Regeneration one since Capaldi took over, so it's bound to have less viewers than (say) "Asylum of the Daleks". However as the series progressed, there was a general feeling that it wasn't getting as many viewers as previous seasons, and that we were seeing a decline in figures that in fact had been going on for some time.
Now that the season is over, it's hard not to conclude that this is in fact the case, that less people are watching Doctor Who than in previous years, and they seem to like it less. The Average AI has dropped to 82 for the first time since 2005, and the average Final Viewing figures (even if we select the higher L+7 figure) are 6.81. This is 1.5 million down on Season 8's L+7 figures, but also 1 million down on Matt Smith's last season. The only thing that has gone up is the number of viewers on Timeshift (now averaging 29%), but of course that is no indication of Doctor Who popularity, but an increasingly less relevant indication of the changing face of Telly viewing.
-Spacewarp May 2016
However I am now revisiting this series from a 2017 perspective, and this time I'm including the Audience Share. "The Magician's Apprentice" took 21% of the total viewing audience in it's time slot. Since the overnight figures were 4.58 millions, this means that there were 21.8 million people watching TV at the time Doctor Who was on. Season 9 of Doctor Who has lost on average 1 million of its core viewers (from 7-8 million down to 6-7 million), but this appears to be because less people were watching TV at this time. The share of the audience is about the same as the show has always had. Ok there's a drop in AI of 4 points since the stability of Series 5 to 7, but this blog really isn't the place for me to debate the possible causes of this decline in appreciation, especially since the figures I'm dealing with don't give any indication of why it is happening, only the evidence that it is. Whether it is down to simply "Doctor Who fatigue" (after all, we've had over 10 years of the new series now), or the fact that perhaps children haven't warmed to Capaldi's brusque "older" Doctor, I have no idea. The same proportion of people are still watching it, but they just like it slightly less.
-Spacewarp July 2017