Well, that’s re-opened a can of worms. Yesterday Doctor Who fans across the web mobilised in support of the show in the face of poorly researched claims by The Guardian that audience figures were falling after the show was twice beaten by All Star Family Fortunes.
To the rescue of fans everywhere came Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury, who (no doubt wearing his blue and gold badge for mathematical excellence) pulled together the figures to tell us the real story: pretty much business as usual.
So why one earth has the Radio Times website waded into the discussion? Well, it seems that have some useful information along the lines that Doctor Who is “posher” now that Christopher Eccleston isn’t the Time Lord (news flash, people…) and that according to them, “overall, there has been a ratings decline.”
Oh dear… didn’t we just sort this one out?
The consolidated television stats show Christopher Eccleston’s average audience was 7.95 million, and despite a rise to 8.33 million viewers per episode for David Tennant, Matt Smith is only managing 7.66 million per show.
Now those figures themselves are skewed as David Tennant enjoyed more special episodes than the other Doctors, their event nature and scheduling causing those episodes to increase the average.
The Radio Times’ poor figures are then poorly qualified with a quick bit of denial. Basically, they don’t really know the truth – no one does:
But these figures do not include the number of views Doctor Who receives on BBC iPlayer. The Beeb tell us that they can’t provide an episode-by-episode breakdown of on-demand figures, but we know the show does well online, and that’s sure to have had an effect on Matt Smith’s television audience more than the other two Doctors.
As the episodes are available for different amounts of time online, it is impossible to quantify exactly how significant the impact would be per episode if added to the television figures, but we do know, for example, that last season’s opening episode, The Eleventh Hour, ultimately earned 1.65 million views on iPlayer after spending several months online.