Netflix only reveals selective viewing information, so how would some of its most popular programmes compare to broadcast viewing figures? A representative sample of 2,000 households in the United Kingdom offers an insight and suggests that the most popular programmes on broadcast channels still dominated viewing in 2020.

Television and viewing viewing research company Digital-i has developed a technique for estimating Netflix viewership through collecting passive viewing data among a representative sample of 2,000 households in the United Kingdom.

Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial television in the United Kingdom, has used this data, together with research from BARB, to compare the top programmes in terms of household views per episode, excluding one-off special programmes such as statements from the Prime Minister.

They came up with a list of episodes of the top 20 series in 2020 across broadcast television and Netflix.

The public service broadcasters dominated the list, with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 occupying the top 12 positions.

The Great British Bakeoff, now on Channel 4, topped the rankings, with an average of just over 10 million household views per episode.

Netflix, the numbers suggest, would have ranked thirteenth with The Stranger, with an estimated average 7.18 million household views per episode. Notably, the Netflix 8-part miniseries was set and produced in Britain by The Red Production company, which has a track record in producing drama for British broadcasters.

The Netflix documentary series Tiger King ranked 18 with an average of 6.97 million.

United Kingdom programmes in 2020 by household views per episode
Programme Channel m
1 The Great British Bake Off C4 10.04
2 Strictly Come Dancing BBC 9.53
3 Des ITV 9.03
4 Britain’s Got Talent ITV 8.83
5 And and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway ITV 8.72
6 I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! ITV 8.60
7 The Masked Singer ITV 8.44
8 Quiz ITV 8.39
9 White House Farm ITV 8.25
10 Van der Valk ITV 7.99
11 The Salisbury Poisonings BBC 7.95
12 Call the Midwife BBC 7.52
13 The Stranger Netflix 7.18
14 Countryfile BBC 7.09
15 Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel BBC 7.07
16 Dancing on Ice ITV 7.07
17 The Nest BBC 7.04
18 Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness Netflix 6.97
19 The Pale Horse BBC 6.92
20 Silent Witness BBC 6.83
Source: Thinkbox / Digital i / BARB. One minute or more household reach; includes viewing to repeat broadcasts within 28 days of first transmission; excludes device viewing.

Notably, broadcasters scored with reality entertainment programmes, which took six of the top 10 places.

While based on BARB research, the measurement methodology differs from that normally used to provide ratings for individual episodes of programmes.

The final of The Great British Bakeoff had a consolidated audience of 11.74 million, which ranked seventh across all programmes over 2020. The most watched single programme of 2020 was the Prime Ministerial Statement on BBC One on Sunday 10 May 2020, with a consolidated audience of 18.99 million.