Back to Earth Ratings

With Red Dwarf X coming up quick and fast in the next 6 months I thought it might be a useful to look at the ratings for ‘Back to Earth’ as well as Dave as a whole to see if a ballpark figure for success can be found for the new series.

First we’ll take a look at the figures for the ‘Back to Earth’ weekend and then follow it up with some contextualisation of the figures by looking at other high performing Dave airings and other Dave commissions.

All consolidated figures (Live+ 7 days of recording) are from the BARB. All overnight figures (Live+ same day recording) are from various news sources.

Night 1: 10/04/2009

‘Back to Earth’ Episode 1 broke records with that rating not just for Dave but for all of digital TV. The figure for Episode 1 put it as the  highest rating scripted digital TV commission in British history. It has since been beaten by the behemoth of The Inbetweeners back in 2010.

The first three Red Dwarf episodes aired that night enter the top 10 for Dave’s history in viewing figures. ‘Tikka to Ride’ is also way above average.

At 1,089,000, the repeat of ‘Gunmen of the Apocalypse’ is the second highest rating airing in Dave history up to that day. Pretty impressive for a 16 year old programme.

Being a commercial station, Dave will be more concerned with the overnights than the final consolidated figure. Both are relevant in measuring the success of a programme but advertisers are more worried about the people who watch it on airing so they know people aren’t skipping the adverts. Without the time-shifted viewers we still see a mind-blowingly good figure.

Night 2: 11/04/2009

Episode 2 held on at an impressive 1.2m viewers. Still above and beyond what would have been expected of the programme. The figure for both the consolidated and overnight are even more impressive when you consider the show clashed for a good 15 minutes with Britain’s Got Talent which was viewed by over 11m people.

The clash with Britain’s Got Talent may explain why from just the consolidated figure above we see a 40% drop off between Episode 1 and 2 yet when all of the weekend figures are added up it was just 25% less people overall viewing from Episode 1 to 2.

The Smeg Ups special achieved an incredibly impressive figure of 652k. This puts it  in the top 5 of Dave airings of any programme up to that day.

Figures for the rest of the day are not available because only the top 10 for each week is publicly available.

Night 3: 12/04/2009

Episode 3 held on to nearly all of the audience that entertained Episode 2. In fact Episode 3 achieved a higher overnight figure which would probably mean Episode 3 was more successful in the eye’s of advertisers. The larger drop seen on the Dave Ja Vu airing can probably be attributed to more people being able to view Episode 3 when it aired as opposed to Episode 2 were a large amount of people would have watched the Dave Ja Vu airing once Britain’s Got Talent had ended.

The making of reached an impressive 575k, making it  the highest rating Dave commission not including the ‘Back to Earth’ episodes themselves.

Night 4: 13/04/2009

Overnight figures for separate airings are not available.

The consolidated figure for all three ‘Back to Earth’ episodes are incredibly impressive for a repeat. Through the night the figure raised indicating that more and more people were catching up on the episode they missed. This rise through the night was echoed with the Dave Ja Vu airing.

The making of repeated incredibly well, better than most of Dave’s original commissions would premiere.

Entire Night Overnight Figures

The above table shows the overnights (the most important figure for advertisers) for each episode across the four airings on the two nights they each aired.

Episode 1 gathered a large majority from it’s first airing whereas the second episode gathered a good portion from the 3 later airings.

Across the 8 airings, all three episodes broke 2 million viewers in overnights.

Final figures issued by the official site show that the three episodes eventually received 4 million, 3 million and 2.9 million respectively. This means that broadly they all time-shifted around 0.8 million viewers.

Dave’s Rating Performance  

From 2007-2009, a regular figure for a top 10 show on Dave is somewhere between 300k-400k.

The above is all of the times in which a programme on Dave broke 600k (which would seem to be a rare barrier to break for the channel). Once the ‘Back to Earth’ weekend had completed, the list had changed dramatically.

The ‘Back to Earth’ weekend has added a mammoth 7 figures to the list of airings to achieve above 600k and it did it across just 4 days.

The above table is the highest ratings for Dave up to this point. 8 more showings have been added to the list since after ‘Back to Earth’ aired, 4 of which are for popular import Suits. Since 2009 it is clear that viewership of Dave has diminished slightly, 2010 saw no show pass the 600k mark.

Dave’s Original Commissions

Dave is pushing more and more into original programming. Commissioning new Red Dwarf back in 2008 was part of that push. Over the years they have commissioned many shows, predominantly studio based or stand-up shows to match their repeat output.

The above table shows all available figures for Dave commissions not including Red Dwarf. Most of these commissions fall around average to below average viewing for programming on the channel but presumably the savings in the long-run for repeats and possible international sale for programming can recoup losses.

It is clear to see how much better performing the ‘Back to Earth’ commission was than any other previous commission or any commission since. Even the airing of the ‘Back to Earth’ Directors Cut in June 2011 achieved an above average figure for a Dave commission.


So with all of these figures for ‘Back to Earth’ and overall figures for Dave, What can be expected for Series X? What would it take for Red Dwarf to get a Series XI?

Red Dwarf comes with a large amount of DVD sales, download sales and international sales which will cover much of the extra revenue needed to cover the extra cost of Red Dwarf over other Dave commissions but it will still need to achieve a higher figure than your usual panel show.

An overnight of 1m for all episodes across the four airings would be a fantastic and realistic figure. A consolidated figure around that of ‘Back to Earth’ Episode 3 would also be a fantastic and realistic figure.

Drop-off between episodes may be greater as the series go on but it will presumably find a low point as ‘Back to Earth’ seemed to when it shown little drop-off between Episode 2 and 3. With the series having to air over 6 weeks rather than 3 days the drop-off may be greater between episodes. Suits begun at nearly 800k viewers but is currently hovering just under 600k viewers.

Dave will also look at the long-term benefit of commissioning additional episodes of Red Dwarf. Series X will add an extra 6 episodes to the rotation and can air on Dave with any other episode from the first 8 series (all being able to air in a 40 minute timeslot). The more episodes over time that Dave commission, the less episodes have to be repeated and the fresher they can be to the audience which would lead to higher viewing figures for Red Dwarf repeats.