'Doctor Who' 50th Anniversary Sets BBCA Ratings Marks

The hoopla surrounding the simultaneous global telecast of the 50th anniversary special celebrating sci-fi series Doctor Who helped BBC America set network viewing records on Saturday.

Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor, seen in the United States at 2:50 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 22, drew 2.4 million total viewers and 1.2 million viewers in the adults 25-54 category, according to live plus same day Nielsen figures the network cited. That was the most ever for the American version of Doctor Who's ancestral TV home, the BBC. Adding in a primetime encore, the special drew 3.6 million viewers on a L+SD basis, the 80-million-subscriber network said.

Various highwater marks were set by the network on social media. BBC America was the top network on Twitter on Saturday, Doctor Who was No. 1 on Twitter in all of television "and the series set a record on Tumblr with the highest level of activity of any televised event ever, surpassing the Super Bowl and MTV’s Video Music Awards," BBC America said in a release.

The special also played to sold-out 3D simulcast screenings in 11 cities on Saturday. (The 11 is in honor of the 11 Doctors that have appeared in the series; the lead character has the ability to regenerate.)

The network said Doctor Who "earned the Guinness World Record for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama following a massive global campaign which saw the episode broadcast in 94 countries across 6 continents."

“The fan response on-air, in social media and in theaters across the country has been nothing short of incredible. The 50th anniversary of this extraordinary program has cemented its iconic status for millions of American viewers and we can't wait for the Christmas Special,” Perry Simon, general manager for BBC America, said in the release.

The network debuted a new fantasy series, Atlantis, Saturday night, after the Doctor Who replay, and it was the highest-rated series premiere ever for the network's "Supernatural Saturday" block, with 838,000 total viewers. The 13-part series from the creators of Merlin and Misfits "brings to life the vast store of Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation."

Other stats released by BBC America:

  • Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor is the No. 1 season and episode on iTunes and No. 1 episode on Amazon’s television chart within 24 hours of release.
  • No. 1 most downloaded episode of 2013 for BBC Worldwide on iTunes (based on first day of sale).
  • In social media, BBC America ranked as the No. 1entertainment network in U.S. cable for the week.
  • On Tumblr, there were 14.5 million views of BBC America’s Doctor Who Tumblr on Nov. 23.
  • On Twitter, Doctor Who overall generated a total of 1.83 million tweets, topping everything on cable for the week.
  • On GetGlue, Doctor Who recorded the most activity ever for a single show smashing the previous record held by Breaking Bad
  • On Nov. 23, BBCAmerica.com had its best day ever with over 1.375 million global page views. BBCAmerica.com and its Anglophenia blog had its best week ever in page views and uniques.

Written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor stars the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, companion Jenna Coleman, with Billie Piper and John Hurt.

Next up for BBCA in the Doctor Who catalog: Matt Smith’s final episode, Doctor Who’s Christmas Special, where Smith’s Eleventh Doctor will regenerate into the next Doctor played by Peter Capaldi.

Pictured: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt. Credit: Adrian Rogers © BBC/BBC Worldwide.