More than two million people watched ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ on BBC America last Saturday — more than twice the Series 8 average. Of that number, 1.1 million were in the coveted 18-49 age range that networks strive to attract.
In fact, Doctor Who was the third most-watched show in its time slot, beating all four major networks. It was bested only by ESPN’s college football coverage and the Sábado Gigante series finale on Univision.
Granted, Saturday evenings aren’t exactly the most competitive television landscape; most networks air reruns or other low profile programs during that time, and Saturday has come to be known as the place where the four major networks send poor performing shows to die (see: Hannibal). Still, it’s impressive to see that much growth — in spite of the fact that not many US viewers watch television on Saturday evenings.
Out of more than 100 returning dramas this year, BBC America points out that Doctor Who is one of only 14 to even show any growth in its audience. And the highest growth was in the younger demographics, which is what networks always want to see. Viewership in the 12-24 age range grew an astonishing 186% over last year, and in the highly-prized 18-34 range it grew by an incredible 161%.
What’s more, Doctor Who practically owned social media on Saturday night. It was the #1 trending TV show on Tumblr, and the #1 drama on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It was barely edged out on Instagram by The Walking Dead, but Doctor Who was still the #1 ranked drama across social media for the week.
Across the pond in Doctor Who‘s homeland, it was a slightly different story. As Warped Factor reports, the overnight ratings for ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ in the UK showed it was watched by 4.56 million viewers. That’s down quite a bit from the 6.8 million viewers that tuned in for Series 8’s premiere, ‘Deep Breath.’ In fact, it’s the lowest rating for a Doctor Who premiere since 1989’s ‘Battlefield: Part One’ (the year that Doctor Who was cancelled!).
But fret not: the final tally to be released later this week will likely show a slightly higher number, and as Warped Factor points out, you have to account for the different ways that people consume television these days. With DVRs and BBC iPlayer, there’s less of a need to watch TV live these days. In the US, the ratings for Doctor Who continue to climb because more and more people are discovering the show for the first time. In England, Doctor Who is a known quantity; ratings dips are more attributable to other factors than a true loss of viewers.
At any rate, the increased ratings in the US are great news for the franchise. It’ll be interesting to see how the numbers change this week for Series 9’s second episode, ‘The Witch’s Familiar.’ Traditionally, ratings go down after a premiere, but considering the two-part storyline and the social media buzz surrounding the cliffhanger ending, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see even more viewers tuning in to see how things play out.
For more info on the upcoming episodes this season, check out our frequently updated guide: Doctor Who Series 9: Everything There is to Know So Far.
What do you think? Are you excited to see the ratings growth in the US for Doctor Who? Are you concerned about the low numbers in the UK? Sound off in the comments below!
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