King Charles’s Christmas broadcast was the most watched Christmas TV address by a monarch on record, as the BBC claimed a festive viewing victory over streaming rivals such as Netflix.
A record 10.6 million viewers watched Charles’s broadcast on BBC One, BBC Two, and ITV, making it the most-watched program on Christmas Day.
It is also the most popular Christmas Day broadcast by a monarch in the two decades that official TV ratings records monitoring audience levels have been kept.
An average of 8.1 million viewers watched the broadcast on BBC One, with 1.58 million tuning into ITV and 929,000 watching on BBC Two, which included sign language.
Charles addressed the nation from St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the committal service of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was held three months ago and where she delivered a Christmas message in 1999.
In the eight-minute message, Charles paid tribute to his mother and addressed the cost of the living crisis gripping the nation, alongside footage of food banks and meals being distributed to the needy.
The BBC once again dominated Christmas Day viewing, with the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special taking the honors as the most-watched show of the day, attracting an average of 5.4 million viewers.
The BBC broadcasted seven of the top 10 most-watched shows on Christmas Day – the other three were broadcast by ITV – with the corporation claiming a Christmas Day triumph over streaming rivals, including Netflix.
The corporation said BBC One, the most popular channel in the UK, attracted more viewers on Christmas Day than the number of viewers who chose to watch a subscription video-on-demand service.
“In a time of so much competition and choice, the BBC continues to be the UK’s entertainment destination on Christmas Day,” said Charlotte Moore, the chief content officer at the BBC.
The corporation said viewing via the BBC iPlayer was up 30% year-on-year over the weekend, with the king’s speech and EastEnders proving the most popular programs on Christmas Day.
Most-watched programs on Christmas Day
1. The King’s Christmas Broadcast, BBC One, 8.1 million
2. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, BBC One, 5.4 million
3. Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Wheel, BBC One, 4.8 million
4. Call the Midwife, BBC One, 4.5 million
5. Aladdin, BBC One, 4.4 million
6 Ghosts Christmas Special, BBC One, 3.9 million
7. Doc Martin, ITV, 3.3 million
8. EastEnders, BBC One, 3.2 million
9. Coronation Street, ITV, 2.8 million
10. Ant and Dec, ITV, 2.7 million