Tim Walker: Why Mad Men fans are not daft

Viewing figures have fallen from 1.5m on BBC2 to 47,000 on Sky

Share
Related Topics

Everyone says James Murdoch stepped down as BSkyB chairman because of phone-hacking. But his resignation also came suspiciously close on the heels of the Mad Men series premiere on Sky Atlantic. When the first episode of Mad Men's fourth series was broadcast on BBC4 in 2010, it was watched by an average audience of 355,000, rising to 1.5m with the BBC2 repeat. The recent double-bill debut of series five – its first since being poached by Sky – got just 72,000. When the next episode aired on Tuesday, viewer figures fell to 47,000.

Sky reportedly spent about £250,000 per episode to acquire Mad Men – that's more than £5 per viewer at present. A huge ad campaign was mounted to herald the show's return, and newspapers responded with acres of Mad Men-themed copy. Fair enough, you might say: the show has won 15 Golden Globes and four Emmys, after all. In the US, the Times Square billboards had the desired effect: 3.5m tuned in for the premiere, its highest stateside ratings to date. But over there, Mad Men is still on its original channel, AMC.

As Murdoch Jr will know from the Times paywall, people tend not to like forking out for things they're accustomed to getting for free. A DVD boxset costs somewhat less than a Sky subscription. And those who are so inclined can steal the show from the internet – a quick browse of some better-known download sites reveals a vigorous illicit exchange of Mad Men episodes. It's possible that a show about morally dubious 1960s ad-men appeals to people who consider themselves immune to major ad campaigns. Perhaps the sceptics would rather miss Mad Men than give Sky the satisfaction of signing them up.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher - September 2014

£100 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for a Teacher of...

English Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: English Teacher RequiredImm...

KS2 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day + tax deductable expenses: Randstad Education Leicester: KS...

B2B Bids and Tenders Pricing Specialist

£35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: Britain's sexism

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back

Nigel Farage
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?