Bake Off: How Channel 4 will have to rise to the BBC ratings challenge
It’s a whole new world out there, and the first time the series will air with adverts… but will that impact the viewing figures?
The first episode of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off will have to hit more than 10 million viewers in the overnight ratings to match the success of the debut episode of the BBC’s final series.
The baking programme was popular with viewers and grew in audience numbers during its seven-year run.
The show, then fronted by judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, had a relatively humble start in 2010 with the first series on BBC Two debuting at two million overnight viewers for its launch episode.
Series two in 2011 fared slightly better, with the first episode hitting 2.8 million viewers.
The series three and four opening episodes grew even more, watched by by 3.5 million and 5.6 million viewers respectively.
Jumping from BBC Two to BBC One for the fifth series in 2014, the audience numbers increased dramatically, with its debut episode enjoying 7.2 million in the overnights.
The 2015 series saw another huge leap in overnight ratings, with its launch episode raking in 9.3 million, while the BBC’s final series of Bake Off last year debuted at 10.4 million viewers.
The BBC’s overnight ratings do not account for those watching on catch-up services.
Channel 4’s outgoing chief creative officer Jay Hunt, who was behind the show’s move, said she would be happy if their version of the Bake Off drew in fewer than half the viewers.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last week, she said she would be “absolutely delighted” if the new series of Bake Off was watched by “five, six, seven million” at its new channel.
“This is breaking for Channel 4 at three million, so anything north of that would be fantastic,” she added.
A recent documentary about the late Diana scored Channel 4 its highest overnight viewing figures in over a year, with an average of 3.5 million and a peak of 4.1 million.
These figures include those watching on Channel 4+1 an hour later.
Diana: In Her Own Words, which aired on August 6, attracted the most overnight viewers for Channel 4 since an episode of Gogglebox in April last year, which saw 3.9 million tune in.
When the Bake Off airs on Channel 4, it will be the first time the cookery show is broadcast with adverts.
The new series of Bake Off returns tonight, with judge Hollywood joined by new judge Prue Leith and new presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig.