Christmas Day viewing figures for main channels drop by 3million!

by Lynn Connolly

The Downton Abbey Christmas Day special on ITV went head-to-head with the BBC’s festive episode of EastEnders, and the bosses of both channels hoped that their show would win out in terms of how many of us tuned in.

However, it’s been reported today that although EastEnders actually won out – with around 9.9million viewers to Downton’s 8.9 – all the major channels were hit by a viewer switch off as families across Britain decided to record both shows and play board games or take part in other activities instead.

The Sun reports that overall, Christmas Day viewing figures dropped from a peaktime audience of 26.6million this year, compared to 29.1million last year.

A BBC insider told the paper, “A lot [of viewers] decided to play computer games and watch DVDs…”

However, other shows were also affected by the great switch off, including Coronation Street which was watched by 9million of us, which is down on last year’s figures.

Ditto for the yuletide special of Doctor Who which was viewed by 8.9million this year, while last year, 10.3million of us watched the Time Lord’s special.

Strictly Come Dancing’s special drew an audience of 7.5million, which was again down when compared to last year’s figures of 9.4million.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said, “BBC1 had the most popular show and the most viewers overall.”

ITV said the ratings battle between the major channels was “the closest in more than a decade.”

However, last night’s episode of EastEnders – which of course focused on the aftermath of the B&B fire – landed 10.44million viewers, which equated to 42% of the overall viewing figures for the timeslot.

BBC Three’s repeat of the episode was watched by 823,000 viewers when it aired at 10pm.

Were you one of the viewers who tuned out this year? And if so, why did you choose to record the top shows rather than watch them as they aired?

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.