BBC2 suffers peaktime collapse
A series of new BBC2 shows failed to bring in the viewers last night as the channel suffered its second worst peaktime performance since at least 2001.
Using BBC2's definition of peaktime viewing – 6pm to 10.30pm – the channel managed a share of just 5.3%. Since the start of 2001, when Barb introduced its new system, it has only performed worse on one occasion: on 4 July 2006 when it had a share of 5.28%.
Three shows debuted on the channel between 7pm and 10.30pm, but attracted an average share of just 4.3%. It was the channel's worst performance during that three-and-a-half hour period since 14 September 1993. Between 8pm and 10.30pm not a single BBC2 show had an audience of a million or more.
Kicking off the new BBC2 programmes was The Department Store at 7pm. The factual series, which previously went out on BBC4, was watched by a modest 1.3m (5.9%) over an hour.
The new eight-part series The Speaker averaged a disappointing 878,000 (3.7%) over an hour at 8pm, BBC2's worst performing show in that slot since 4 July 2006. The programme peaked at 895,000 (4.1%) in the final 15 minutes but was down by huge 1.7m on the channel's slot average this year.
Up next at 9pm was Horse People with Alexandra Tolstoy, which could only interest 877,000 (3.6%) for an hour. The show grew from an initial 822,000 (3.3%) to 999,000 (4.3%) at the end, but was still BBC2's worst performing programme in that slot since 29 April 2008. It was 1m shy of the slot average for this year.
BBC2 continued to struggle at 10pm with the return of Later Live… with Jools Holland. The half-hour live music show, which featured performances from the likes of Franz Ferdinand and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, averaged 680,000 (3.2%).
A BBC spokesman said: "Last night BBC2 offered a culturally rich schedule of absorbing factual programmes and live music providing viewers with a distinctive alternative to drama on BBC1 and football on ITV1.
The general trend for BBC2 is a positive one and it was the only terrestrial channel to show a marked increase in reach and broaden its appeal to younger audiences last year."