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‘Doctor Who’ Showrunner Explains Why He Has No Worries About Poor Ratings

The showrunner says the series is doing well among its target audience, despite what traditional ratings might suggest.

The overnight TV ratings for some of the ‘Doctor Who’ Season 14 episodes came lower than expected this year, partly due to its new release model. Russell T. Davies addressed the complaints about the viewership during a Q&A at the ‘BAFTA: A Life in Pictures’ event:

“In coming back, I wanted to make it simpler and I wanted to make it younger. Those two things are often not discussed – you read reactions to it and people are missing that. It’s simpler and younger – and it is working.”

He went on:

“The under-16s and the 16-34 audience as well is massive. It’s not doing that well in the ratings, but it is doing phenomenally well with the younger audience that we wanted.”

The Show’s New Release Model

The sci-fi series adopted a streaming-first release strategy this season. New episodes premiered at Saturday midnights on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney+ internationally. They aired on BBC One later the same evening.

The model affected the overnight ratings, but the seven-day streaming numbers changed the situation.

The ‘73 Yards’ episode marked the season’s peak in viewership so far with 2.62 million overnight and 4.058 million through streaming. Season 14 consistently kept viewer counts above 3 million within the seven-day window.

The Showrunner Says People Don’t Watch TV Anymore

Davies explained in an interview with Radio Times:

“They might not be the ratings we’d love. We always want higher. But they are building over the 28-day period. Episode one, ‘Space Babies,’ is already up to 5.6 million and counting. So, it is getting there. And actually, I was brought back to bring in a younger audience. That’s been massively successful.”

He added:

“The audience no one ever gets are the under-30s. They just don’t watch television anymore. But those figures are astronomic for ‘Doctor Who,’ it’s their top program in that bracket. I never thought it was possible, to be honest. But according to the people who juggle the numbers, all targets have been reached and exceeded. The BBC are running around like mad things.”

Last night’s episode, ‘The Legend of Ruby Sunday,’ revealed Season 14’s main villain and ended on a cliffhanger. The season finale, ‘Empire of Death,’ is scheduled for June 22.

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