Bake Off a ratings and commercial winner for C4

The first episode of the Great British Bake Off peaked at 7.7 million viewers, well above the numbers Channel 4 needs to make it a commercial success.

Channel 4 says its opening episode of the Great British Bake Off drew an average audience of 6.5 million, making it the broadcaster’s biggest overnight performance since the the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony in August 2012 and suggesting it will be a commercial success for the broadcaster.

The show grabbed an average 30.4% share of TV viewers and peaked at 7.7 million viewers with a 34.6% share. The series eight debut was also the most popular programme in the 8pm to 9.15pm slot for all viewers, as well as Channel 4’s key demographics of 16- to 34-year-olds and ABC1s. It also easily beat its usual ratings for this time, which normally average at about 1 million.

“The Great British Bake Off’s audience last night proves it’s still one of the country’s favourite shows. I am delighted millions watched the new team put 12 magnificent bakers through their paces. It’s the largest share of young audiences we’ve had for a show for over a decade,” says Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s chief creative officer.

However, while the figures mark a strong start to the series, they are some way behind the series when it was on the BBC. Last year’s opening episode attracted an average audience of 10.4 million viewers, while 2015 saw 9.3 million Brits watching the show.

Channel 4 had previously revealed the programme needs to attract at least three million viewers per episode to break even on its £75m deal to buy the show. Hunt said she would be “delighted” by anything between 5 million and 7 million.

The viewing figures suggest this will be the case. While Channel 4 has not commented on ad rates, reports suggest it was asking for between £150,000 and £200,000 for a 30-second slot, double the £100,000 it usually charges for peak-time programming.

Brands including eBay, Freeview and Carte D’Or all bought a slot in the first ad break and created ads specifically for Bake Off. Unilever also seems to have invested heavily, with ads for a number of its brands including Stork and PG Tips.

The show’s two sponsors Lyle’s and Dr. Oetker also showed off their idents. The sponsorship alone is estimated to have brought in £4m, although the price has been questioned by some brands.

Dr. Oetker was the most frequently talked about brand on Twitter in relation to the show (751 tweets), followed by Stork (201) and eBay (189), according to data from Kantar Media’s Social TV Ratings (KSTR) tool, Instar Social. However, Lyle’s had the highest proportion of purely positive tweets.

The reaction on social media to the programme has been largely positive, with many viewers expressing their delight at the show sticking to the popular format. However, there was some backlash to the numerous ad breaks, which lasted for more than 15 minutes of the show’s 75-minute running time.

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  • Macy Graver 1 Sep 2017 at 6:54 am

    There are very few things better than British accents and sweet treats, but nothing beats combining these two wonderful things together to make the Great British Bake Off. The season premiere aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and drew an average audience of six and a half million. The last time that the channel’s audience was this large was back in 2012 for the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony; given this statistic, the show’s debut has proved to be monumental for Channel 4. With a view count that high, you can only imagine how many companies were fighting for a merely fifteen to thirty second time slot to captivate a fraction of those tuning in to watch the British bakers compete under a little white tent. Audience members took to social media the evening of the premiere to express just how they felt about the many commercial breaks and basically, no one was happy but they did not let it put a damper on an evening that they had been anticipating. Ultimately, the evening was a win for Channel 4 and Great British Bake Off fans alike.

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