The Ratings Fall.

TV The Doctor Who News Pages brings us news of the overnight ratings for Spyfall:
Doctor Who Spyfall Part One, was watched by an average of 4.88 million viewers, 21.6% of the total TV audience at the time.

The audience is slightly lower than last year's New Year Special which had an overnight figure of 5.15 million watching.

Doctor Who was the second-highest-rated show for the day with Emmerdale taking top honours with 5 million watching. Coronation Street was third, just behind Doctor Who. The new Steven Moffat series Dracula had 3.57 million watching.

The rating does not include those recording the programme and watching it later. Final ratings will be released in two weeks time which are likely to put Doctor Who as the top-rated show of the day.
Which looks pretty grim, even if it does at least mean we beat Coronation Street on a Wednesday night which for old school fans is something of a win.  It's difficult to criticise this number too much given how low the numbers are across the board.  Emmerdale's 5m isn't anything for ITV to be pleased with, although it was opposite Who itself.

I'm looking forward to Tom Spilsbury's analysis in next month's union circular, but for what it's worth ...

(1)  The pre-publicity for the show has been shockingly complacent.  Given Doctor Who has been off-air for exactly a year, the trailers have been pretty generic and didn't suggest that there would be anything too earth shattering in this opening episode.  Putting the twist front and centre would have been mistake, but a specially shot piece which hinted towards something big might have helped.

(2)  One element which has gone missing since the RTD era is engineering the shock of the new into each season opener.  In his four years, the first episode of every season brought a new element, either Doctor or companion, something to bring viewers in.  Of course, this episode actually does that, but the problem is they couldn't tell anyone.

(3)  It's a toxic time-slot for an opening episode.  A much braver BBC would have TXed this on Christmas Day bunged the second episode out last night and then run the back eight starting at Easter.  Perhaps this wouldn't have been hugely popular amongst the international sales licensees but it sure would have made this feel special.

(4)  I also think that people have just started consuming television differently.  The hard core still tune in on broadcast, but the majority of people will watch it on catch-up in the following seven days.  Those numbers are going to be really interesting this time.

(5)  Overall the show needs to stop pretending that it's still as popular now as it was ten years ago.  With so much content, it has to justify its existence with each new series and although I have faith after that episode the audience will build for the second half (not least because it's back on a Sunday), there has to be something in each episode that will make the general audience want to watch.  I'm not sure we have that right now.

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