Prince Philip death: BBC and ITV viewing figures plummet amid wall-to-wall royal coverage

BBC One, BBC Two and ITV experienced dramatic exodus of viewers after pulling their regular schedules

Adam White
Saturday 10 April 2021 12:05
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The moment the BBC announced Prince Philip had died

Viewing figures for the BBC and ITV collapsed after they pulled their regularly scheduled programming for wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death.

The earliest available overnight ratings, provided by Barb, saw ITV’s Friday night (9 April) audience decline by 60 percent in comparison to one week previously. BBC One suffered a similar, if less dramatic, loss of average viewers.

In the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, the BBC pulled the entirety of its programming on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four.

It has since set up a dedicated complaints line after being inundated with backlash over the move, which saw the final of MasterChef, along with episodes of EastEnders, The Graham Norton Show and Gardeners World, pulled off air.

BBC One drew an average of 2.41m viewers between 7pm and 11pm, where it broadcast a two-hour Prince Philip special. Last Friday (2 April), the channel drew an average of 2.56m viewers, or a six percent increase.

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BBC Two, which pulled its programming in order to broadcast the exact same Duke of Edinburgh programming as BBC One, suffered a 64 percent drop in viewers in comparison to a week ago.

ITV’s Prince Philip coverage, between 7pm and 11pm, drew an average of 1.34m viewers – a steep decline from the average of 3.39m viewers during the same time period last Friday.

BBC Four was replaced by a blank screen urging viewers to switch over

Channel 4 broadcast the highest-rated show of the evening, after largely sticking to its pre-announced schedule despite Prince Philip’s death. The latest episode of Gogglebox drew 4.2m viewers.

On its official complaints page, the BBC said that it is aware that many viewers believed there was “too much coverage” of the royal death, and that a statement on the matter was impending.

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