GM Thought of the Week

Has the ship sailed for Blue Peter?

“It was essential after-school viewing for generations of children.” Whilst you can argue to the hills and back whether it was essential viewing for you growing up what must be accepted is that the show was watched in its droves in its heyday. Whilst there are no official statistics to validate this statement it is claimed a recent report that c. 8 million viewers tuned in per show. However considering the current children’s 4-15 universe, who would have made up the majority of the audience, has only just exceeded 9 million, these numbers do have to be taken with a pinch of salt. But the question remains: has Blue Peter’s time come and gone?

Delving into the BARB reported numbers it appears that the performance of Blue Peter has maintained stable, if not grown, over the past 10 years. When comparing CBBC airings, the only channel that the show has remained on consistently over this period, the average children’s 4-15 audience per show has actually increased from c. 40,000 to c. 55,000 .The best performing in June actually achieved 129,000 children 4-15 (22nd June). Whilst these aren’t the heady numbers that the show is estimated to have seen in its heyday it’s worth remembering that a) there were fewer TV channels, so less choice, for kids 10+ years ago, b) the move from BBC 1 to CBBC will have had a great impact upon the performance of the show – for example BBC 1 reached c. 79% of children in May 2017 compared to 34% on CBBC –  and c) the new millennium has bought with it the explosion of the internet which has taken kids time and attention away from the big screen. However, to put these numbers in context, if we take the highest performing show this year of 129,000 children 4-15 & compare this to the top performing kids show on children’s commercial channels of the last full month of finalised data, May, it would have placed the show second behind Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom on Milkshake – another free to air station.

From a personal point of view I remember Blue Peter fondly from my childhood by trying, and mostly failing, to make everything they were on the show. The show is clearly still resonating with the children of today having looked at the latest viewing performance figures but it needs to ensure that it is keeping up with the times. How does it do that? One example could be for the BBC to run the show as a series of webisodes. Whatever direction is chosen, who only this week announced plans to spend an additional £34.4m on new children’s content over the next 3 years, there is a need to do continue to innovate to ensure the ship remains on course. Otherwise the show may sail off into the distance never to be seen again….

Source: BARB, July 2017


Daniel Chrystie ,  Associate Director AV