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'Top Gear' drives record iPlayer December

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BBC iPlayer

© BBC

BBC iPlayer enjoyed a record-breaking December, as Top Gear and The Apprentice helped the catch-up platform pull in more than 140 million requests.

The iPlayer, which celebrated its third birthday on Christmas Day, broke records for the third month in a row, racking up 145m requests for content during the month of December.

The month's performance across all platforms where iPlayer is available was up 27% year-on-year and included a new individual record for total TV requests at 89.7m.

There was also a record amount of iPlayer usage on Virgin Media (23.9m requests), while total requests on Sony's PlayStation 3 were up 31% month-on-month at 7m.

According to figures released by the BBC, Top Gear continued to dominate the TV requests chart, with the 'USA Road Trip' special attracting 1.29m and the 'Middle East' Special pulling in 1.26m.

The Apprentice also proved popular, with all five final episodes of series six featuring in the top ten most requested TV shows.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams's new airport based comedy Come Fly With Me was the fifth most popular programme with 783,000 requests, while the Doctor Who and EastEnders Christmas specials came in eighth (716,000) and tenth (610,000) respectively.

On the radio side, the Test Match Special coverage of Day Five and Day Four of the second test at The Ashes topped the charts, pulling in 159,000 and 156,000 requests respectively.

Other notable radio shows in the top ten included Manchester United's Premier League clash with Arsenal on December 13 (119,000) and Richard Bacon's coverage of the 2018 World Cup decision (84,000).

"These figures are a fantastic way to start the new year and I'm looking forward to building on these while we continue to evolve and improve BBC iPlayer," said Daniel Danker, the BBC's general manager of programmes and on-demand.

"In December we saw huge growth of BBC iPlayer on game consoles, connected TVs, and mobile phones. We're seeing impressive audience appreciation for our TV and mobile experiences, and I anticipate that growth on these devices will significantly outpace traditional BBC iPlayer use in 2011."

Jana Bennett, the outgoing director of BBC Vision, added: "Large numbers of viewers watched the BBC's channels this Christmas but at the same time a record number were also using BBC iPlayer. This shows how complementary and essential BBC iPlayer is as part of today's viewing."

Before Christmas, the BBC revealed that iPlayer enjoyed a record-breaking 2010, racking up more than 1.3 billion programme requests over the 12 months.

However, the BBC Trust has recommended that the BBC's on-demand content should only be made available via iPlayer rather than on a programme-by-programme basis, seemingly ruling out the possibility of an on-demand deal with Sky.

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