The ratings are in for Twentica and the overnight viewers for the Series XI premier is… 810,000 viewers. This is 750k viewers watching on Dave and 60k viewers catching up an hour later on Dave Ja Vu. Not quite the magic 1 million viewers mark that we usually hope for but lets add a little context to these figures.
The Beginning was seen by 975k viewers and had a share of 4.2% overnight. Twentica was seen by 810k viewers and also had a share of 4.2%. Whilst the overall viewership is down, it still holds the same percentage of those watching TV at the time of airing. The Beginning added 400k viewers when including people who caught up in the following 7 days taking it to a rating 1.5m for the initial broadcast on Dave and Dave Ja Vu. If Twentica can match that, it will jump comfortably over the 1 million viewers mark.
Twentica also compares favourable to Dave’s latest new programme, Dara Ó Briain’s Go 8 Bit. The heavily promoted Go 8 Bit achieved an overnight of 350k with a 2.4% share when it premiered at the start of September, which Red Dwarf comfortably doubled with 750k and a 3.9% share for the initial Dave airing.
There is also the fact that Red Dwarf is airing a week early on UKTV Play. It is unlikely we will see the figures for this, but the fact that UKTV feel Red Dwarf is in a position to help promote their new online platform is a very good sign for how Red Dwarf is viewed within the UKTV offices. The success of Red Dwarf on UKTV Play will no doubt play a part in how successful the show is seen to be for UKTV.
It is also worth remembering that Red Dwarf exists in a strange limbo of broadcast TV. The reason Red Dwarf came back was not only because of the ratings for the repeats on Dave but because it was a financial success for BBC Worldwide, who part own Dave. With the cuts to the BBC license fee and the increased burden put on the BBC budget, the BBC is becoming more reliant on profits from their commercial subsidiary BBC Worldwide in order to fund new programming. The BBC is no longer interested in the audience Red Dwarf used to provide but they would like all the lovely profits the audience are happy to provide.
In gauging the success of Red Dwarf you have to not only consider how well it does on Dave but also how well the DVD sells, how many digital downloads are sold, how many people buy the mobile game and of course how much merchandise is sold form the new Red Dwarf store. So if you are a little disappointed by that opening figure, as I am, don’t panic. Red Dwarf is still the crown jewel in Dave’s line-up and is very important for BBC Worldwide.