Doctor Who tops BBC iPlayer views

LONDON (Reuters) - The Christmas special episode of Doctor Who was the most viewed programme on the BBC’s iPlayer Web site in the first two weeks after its official launch on December 25, the publicly funded broadcaster said on Tuesday.

David Tennant and Kylie Minogue in a publicity photo promoting the Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned" in an image courtesy of BBC. The Christmas special episode was the most viewed programme on the BBC's iPlayer Web site in the first two weeks after its official launch on December 25, the broadcaster said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Handout

The Christmas special of the Ricky Gervais comedy Extras was the second most popular, while the December 23 edition of motor show Top Gear came third.

The BBC said more than 3.5 million programmes had been streamed or downloaded in the fortnight after Christmas Day, with more than one million people visiting the iPlayer site.

Director of BBC Future Media and Technology Ashley Highfield said the viewing figures were wonderful start for the iPlayer.

“Typically, people who use the BBC iPlayer are spending nearly half an hour a day watching streams of their favourite programmes, suggesting that it looks set to revolutionise the way BBC Television programmes are viewed in the UK.”

With more and more viewers turning to the Internet, the BBC and other broadcasters are under pressure to put their content online.

The BBC formally launched the iPlayer at Christmas, after a lengthy development which included a “beta” pilot from July 2007.

Users can choose to stream or download a choice of 250 BBC programmes from the previous seven days.

The top 10 streamed programmes on BBC iPlayer between December 25 and Jan 7 were as follows (transmission dates in brackets):

1. Doctor Who Christmas Special (25/12/07)

2. Extras Christmas Special (27/12/07)

3. Top Gear (23/12/07)

4. The Catherine Tate Christmas Show (25/12/07)

5. EastEnders (25/12/07)

6. EastEnders (01/01/08)

7. Sense and Sensibility (01/01/08)

8. Robin Hood (29/12/08)

9. EastEnders (31/12/07)

10. The Best of Top Gear (01/01/08)

Reporting by Tim Castle