BBC America caps record ratings year with Doctor Who Christmas special

Michelle Clancy | 05-01-2013

The recent proliferation of “my other car is a TARDIS” bumper-stickers in the US is no coincidence: BBC America saw record viewership in 2012, capped by the channel’s best-ever ratings coup among adults aged 25-54 with its Christmas special, Doctor Who: The Snowmen.

As 2012 drew to a close, BBC America had its best quarter ever in Q3 2012 and is on track to celebrate its highest ratings year, the BBC said. It was also one of the fastest growing networks in US distribution, up 11% year on year and now in 80.4 million of the nearly 300 million pay-TV homes in the country (up from 72.1 last year).

The Doctor Who Christmas Day special drew 1.434 million total viewers, up 54% from last year’s Christmas episode in total viewers and up 60% among adults aged 25-54. The show was the channel’s second best telecast ever in total viewers, after the Doctor Who season 7 premiere in September (1.555 million).

“It feels exactly right to be ending the year on a ratings high with Doctor Who,” said BBC America general manager Perry Simon. “The show has really delivered for us this year on every level. Cinematic scale, superb acting, cracking storylines and a growing band of dedicated fans – we can’t wait for the next series in spring 2013.”

Doctor Who also claimed some firsts in the publishing world. In August it became the first British show to claim the front cover of Entertainment Weekly and in December it won TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorite cover, beating local fare like The Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries, among others.

The year saw BBC America broadcast its first-ever original scripted drama, Copper. The show became the channel’s highest rated drama series and averaged 1.3 million total viewers throughout its 10-week run. Season 2 begins filming in February.

Meanwhile, the long-running Top Gear franchise continued to grow, with season 18 averaging the series’ biggest audience yet among adults aged 25-54, and the channel aired the second season of spin-off series Richard Hammond’s Crash Course. Season 19 of Top Gear is scheduled to air in winter 2013.

The channel’s Queen’s Jubilee coverage was also a highlight of the year, reaching 3.6 million unique viewers.