To celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary last year, the BBC made a huge, unprecedented move: for the first time, almost the entirety of Doctor Who, from episodes from 1963 all the way up to the then-airing anniversary specials, would be made available to stream in the UK in one place, on the BBC’s own streaming platform iPlayer. And it turns out doing so has helped the BBC break streaming records over the festive period.
Alan Cumming on playing King James in Doctor Who
The corporation has announced that Doctor Who—and most specifically Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards—were streamed 10.01 million times over the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, helping the platform break a previous record for streamed content for the week between January 2 and January 8, 2023, with 177 million programs being streamed in total.
Doctor Who was the fifth most-streamed series for the week, with the latest episode, Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road,” also the fifth most-streamed individual episode behind entries in the long-running soap EastEnders, Rick Astley’s New Year’s Eve special, period drama Call the Midwife, and police drama Vigil, with 1.79 million streams, according to TVZone. Although final broadcast ratings for the week have yet to be consolidated—which would take into account the live overnight ratings, figures from streaming, and figures from people catching up on demand in the first week of broadcast—“Ruby Road” was the third most-watched show on Christmas Day in the UK, with 4.73 million people watching live. It’s great to see that Doctor Who has flourished with not just the renewed interest in the 60th anniversary specials and Ncuti Gatwa’s new Doctor, but with the simple fact that if you put as much of it to watch as you can in one place, well… people will go and check it out.
It’s hard to say just how that success has panned out internationally, however. The BBC’s new deal with Disney to stream Doctor Who on Disney+ everywhere but the UK and Ireland only covers new episodes from the 60th anniversary onwards—other contemporary and classic Doctor Who access is spread out on various platforms elsewhere, such as Britbox for classic Doctor Who and Max for post-2005 Doctor Who. The last we saw at the time of the release of the first 60th special, “The Star Beast,” Doctor Who placed consistently in the top five most popular programs on Disney+ across multiple markets, so it’s seemingly good news all around the world so far, at least.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.