An informitv analysis of multiscreen data shows that less than 3% of viewing of the top 10 television programmes in the United Kingdom was on computers, tablets or phones. Such viewers accounted for nearly 6% of the audience for the finale of the most popular drama of the year, but it seems that the television screen is still by far the most popular place to watch programmes.
Since the start of September, the national television audience measurement organisation BARB has been reporting four-screen viewing data, revealing the total viewing of programmes across television, computer, tablet and phone screens.
An informitv analysis of the top 10 programmes for each of the four full weeks in September, including viewing within seven days, shows that 97.4% of viewers were watching on the television screen.
Personal computers and laptops produced 1% of viewers, with tablets adding another 1%, and phones adding just over 0.5%.
The average audience, across these 40 programmes was 8.05 million. Of this, the average audience for these programmes watching on a computer was 80,000, with an average of 86,000 watching on tablets and 44,000 watching on phones.
The most viewed programme was the finale of the drama Bodyguard on BBC One on Sunday 23 September, with a total seven-day audience of 15.20 million, of which 866,000 were viewing on computer, tablet or phone screens, amounting to 5.7% of its viewers.
However, Bodyguard was an exception. The next most popular programme for viewing away from the television screen was The Great British Bakeoff on Channel 4, with 3.8% of such viewers.
The top 10 programmes are otherwise dominated by the long-running serial dramas Coronation Street and Emmerdale on ITV, for which an average of 1.9% of their audience watch on computers, tablets or phones.
This has the effect of lowering the overall average proportion of such viewers for the ten most popular programmes of the week.
Incidentally, EastEnders, once a ratings banker for the BBC, only featured once in the top 15 programmes, with a peak total seven-day audience of only 6.4 million. However, 4.6% of the audience for this episode of EastEnders watched away from the television, equivalent to almost 300,000 viewers, led by 117,000 watching on their phone. This perhaps reflects the relative popularity of the ubiquitous BBC iPlayer, compared to the ITV Hub offering.
For some of this period there was missing data from the Sky Go web site and the STV player, but even so the numbers do not suggest that there are large audiences watching these programmes on anything other than a television screen.
Of course the programmes with the largest audiences may not necessarily produce the largest number watching on computers, tablets or phones, either in absolute numbers or as a percentage of the total audience.
The BBC was quick to promote the success of Bodyguard, which had the highest audience of the year other than for the World Cup, with the largest for a drama series across all channels since 2011 and the biggest on the BBC since 2008.
The BBC reported the day after transmission of the final episode that the series had generated over 24.2 million requests across all six episodes, including 7.3 million for the first episode.
That works out at an average of 3.38 million requests for each of the subsequent episodes, which is hard to square with the 866,000 computer tablet and phone viewers reported by BARB for the finale.
However, over half of the viewing for BBC iPlayer is on the television screen. So this may already be attributed to the television audience.
At least at last we have an accepted industry measure for viewing across four screens, even if the numbers watching on screens other than the television appears to be relatively small.
Notably, the BBC will be leaving all episodes of Bodyguard on the BBC iPlayer exclusively in the United Kingdom for six months. The drama is an independent production by World Productions, and Netflix has acquired the international distribution rights.