The UK’s major broadcasters trashed their schedules on Friday to bring audiences wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death, but the output proved to be a turn-off for Brits in key evening viewing hours.
Ratings data crunched by Deadline shows that the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 all suffered audience declines between the hours of 7PM and 11PM, when the broadcasters lined up special coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s demise.
BBC One, the UK’s most-watched television channel, lost 6% of its audience last night compared with Friday, April 2 (full figures below). Sister channel BBC Two, which simulcast the BBC News channel for a good chunk of the evening, was down 65%, according to Barb figures supplied by overnights.tv.
Prince Philip’s Death: How The BBC & Other British Broadcasters Responded
Such was the displeasure with the scale of the BBC’s coverage that it was deluged with complaints. The BBC even set up an official complaint form on its website, making it easier for viewers to raise their concerns about “too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
It was a similar story elsewhere. ITV, the BBC’s main commercial rival, suffered a 60% dent to its ratings on Friday night, while Channel 4 — which broadcast a feature-length news special at 7PM — was down 8.5%.
Channel 4 did, however, largely stick to its planned schedule in the evening and was rewarded with the highest-rated show of the day on a single channel in the shape of Studio Lambert’s Gogglebox, which was watched by nearly 4.2M viewers.
The only public service broadcaster to post an improved audience on a week ago was Channel 5, which nudged up 2%. Like Channel 4, the ViacomCBS-owned network largely stuck to its original evening schedule.
The highest-rated news bulletin of the day was the BBC 6PM news with just over 4.6M viewers as it was simulcast across BBC One, BBC Two, and BBC News. BBC One also boasted the most-viewed special broadcast on Prince Philip, with 2.4M tuning into HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Remembered from 7PM to 9PM.
Below are the public service broadcasters’ average audiences between 7PM and 11PM last night, compared with last week:
April 9: 2.41M
April 2: 2.56M
April 9: 340,000
April 2: 980,000
April 9: 1.34M
April 2: 3.39M
April 9: 1.62M
April 2: 1.77M
April 9: 900,000
April 2: 880,000