The BBC iPlayer delivered a record 6.1 billion programmes in the 12 months to April 2021, up 28% from 4.8 billion the previous year. On average, 10.7 million accounts use the online service a week, up from 9.1 million the year before. The BBC iPlayer now accounts for 12% of BBC television viewing, or 53 minutes per week. The figures come from the BBC Annual Report and Accounts for 2020-2021, which provides an insight into BBC iPlayer usage, among other statistics.

An average of 39.7 million hours a week were delivered through the BBC iPlayer over the year, up from 32.2 million the previous year.

That works out at just over 2 billion hours of viewing a year, generated from those 6.1 billion requests.

The number of requests has increased significantly over the last two years and has almost doubled since 2016-2017, as the BBC has increased the promotion of the service and added entire series of programmes.

BBC iPlayer usage 2010-2020. Source: BBC

The highest usage so far was in the first week of January 2021, when the BBC iPlayer delivered 163 million streams.

People in the United Kingdom spent an average of 53 minutes a week using the BBC iPlayer. That is up from 44 minutes per week per person the previous year.

Usage appears to be higher for the accounts of those aged under 35, which make up 3.2 million of the 10.7 million accounts using the service in an average week. This accounts for an estimated 37% of BBC television viewing in this age group.

To put the numbers in context, people aged 16-34 spend an average of 7 hours 27 minutes a week using BBC television, radio or online services.

66% of BBC iPlayer viewing is on a television, with 14% on a tablet, 10% on a computer and 9% on a phone. 20% of BBC iPlayer viewing is to programmes at the time of broadcast.

BBC Sounds, the online service for audio, now attracts an average of 3.5 million accounts a week, up from 2.9 million the previous year, but at the lower end of the BBC target of 3.05 to 4 million. An average of 572,000 of them are for accounts among those aged 16-34, up from 500,000 the year before.

The average time delivered by BBC sounds was 10.9 million hours a week, suggesting that those that use the audio service do so more extensively than its video equivalent. Interestingly, 56% of that was listening live, in other words, good old-fashioned radio, delivered online.