Belfast Telegraph

Christmas Day TV audiences were lowest on record

The most-watched show on December 25 was Call The Midwife.

Helen George as Trixie Franklin in the Call The Midwife Christmas special (PA)
Helen George as Trixie Franklin in the Call The Midwife Christmas special (PA)

2018 saw the lowest TV ratings for a Christmas Day since records began, new figures show.

The most-watched programme on December 25 last year was Call The Midwife on BBC1, with a TV audience of 8.7 million.

This is half a million below the 9.2 million who saw Call The Midwife in 2016, which previously held the record for the lowest ratings for a most-watched Christmas Day show.

Second place on December 25 2018 was Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show with 7.6 million, while the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special came third with 7.5 million.

It means TV audiences for the most-watched show on Christmas Day have dropped by 31% this decade, and 40% since 2000.

The decline is even steeper when comparing 2018 with 1998 (down 42%) and 1988 (down 52%).

(PA Graphics)

The full ratings for Christmas Day 2018 have been published by Barb, and include people who recorded a broadcast and watched up to seven days later.

They are treated as the official ratings for a TV programme.

Comparable figures for TV audiences date back to 1981.

They show that Christmas Day audiences remained broadly steady through the 1980s and much of the 1990s, before starting a downward trend around the turn of the century.

Soap operas have seen a particularly steep decline.

Coronation Street enjoyed 14.6 million viewers for its Christmas Day episode in 2000, and managed 10.8 million in 2011.

But 2018’s episode had ratings of just 6.7 million.

And EastEnders has seen its Christmas Day audience slump from the likes of 14.4 million as recently as 2007 to only 6.5 million last year.

Barb’s figures also reveal that the first episode of the BBC’s Poirot adaptation The ABC Murders enjoyed a TV audience of 7.6 million, making it the most-watched programme on Boxing Day.

It was also the second most-watched programme of Christmas week, behind Call The Midwife on Christmas Day.

Here are the top 10 biggest TV audiences of Christmas week (Dec 24-30 2018). All figures include +1 and HD where appropriate.

1. Call The Midwife (Christmas Day, BBC1): 8.7 million
2. The ABC Murders (Boxing Day, BBC1): 7.6 million
3. Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show (Christmas Day, BBC1): 7.6 million
4. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (Christmas Day, BBC1): 7.5 million
5. Coronation Street (7.30pm December 28, ITV): 7.5 million
6. Coronation Street (8.30pm December 28, ITV): 7.4 million
7. Coronation Street (Christmas Eve, ITV): 7.0 million
8. Zog (Christmas Day, BBC1): 6.9 million
9. Coronation Street (Boxing Day, ITV): 6.9 million
10. Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special (Christmas Day, BBC1): 6.7 million

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