BBC’s reaches ratings highs with “Planet Earth II”

BBC1′s natural history juggernaut Planet Earth II has struck a chord with youth across Britain, according to the UK pubcaster. The program’s latest episode – “Deserts” – on Sunday (Nov. 27) pulled ...
December 1, 2016

BBC1′s natural history juggernaut Planet Earth II has struck a chord with youth across Britain, according to the UK pubcaster.

The program’s latest episode – “Deserts” – on Sunday (Nov. 27) pulled in 100,000 more viewers in the 16-34 demographic than its primetime competition in ITV’s long-running shiny floor series The X Factor, which received an average of 1.4 million viewers in the same age group.

On average, ITV’s The X Factor garners an audience of approximately seven million per week, while the David Attenborough-led docuseries attracts more than 12 million, according to the British corporation.

Previously known as One Planet, Planet Earth II (6 x 50 minutes) was shot in Ultra HD and capitalized on the latest advances in filming technology that have emerged over the last three years.

Film crews employed drones, stabilized MoVI systems and remote recording as they explored Earth’s ecosystems and the characteristic animals living within them.

“The significant advances in camera technology have really allowed us to change the way you perceive the natural world,” BBC series producer Tom Hugh-Jones told realscreen in October. “Now we can get quite light rigs out into wild places which allow us to make people feel more like they’re experiencing the natural world and meeting animals eye-to-eye, traveling with them and experiencing the wild places through their eyes.”

“In a career that’s gone on for…years I do feel that we’re in a very exciting time in the media industry where we can revisit perhaps topics we’ve done before, but the way in which the quality of digital and content capture technology has increased significantly, new opportunities are now present,” said Attenborough in a letter to realscreen.

Planet Earth II‘s debut episode – “Islands” – on Nov. 6, meanwhile, ranked as the most watched of any natural history program in the UK for more than 15 years, receiving an audience of 12.26 million viewers according to BARB, the organization that compiles audience measurement and television ratings in the UK.

The series premiere explored remote islands that offer sanctuary for some of the planet’s rarest creatures, including the pygmy three-toed sloth in the Caribbean, marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands and penguins on the sub-Arctic island of Zavadovski.

It would be eclipsed one week later when the sophomore episode entitled “Mountains,” in which the harsh realities of living at extreme altitudes are explored, generated 13.14 million viewers. It also serves as Planet Earth II‘s most successful episode to date among youths, reaching 1.8 million viewers aged 16-34 compared to The X Factor‘s 1.4 million that week.

In 2006, Planet Earth pulled in an average audience of 7.81 million viewers for the BBC, with critics celebrating the program’s educational virtues and its striking cinematography. The rights to the series would eventually sell across 320 territories worldwide.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.