Jodie Whittaker’s inaugural season as the Doctor has given Doctor Who a big kick up the ass when it comes to viewership. At least, if these Nielsen figures are anything to go by. Following a record-breaking premiere episode, the season went on to average around 1.6 million viewers over its first eight episodes (figures for the final two outings are not yet available).
That’s a substantial improvement on the final season of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, which averaged 1.3 million viewers per episode. Interestingly, there was also a 47% leap in viewers tuning in to watch the show live rather than catch-up, suggesting people were eager to see it as soon as possible.
Across the pond, the outlook’s even rosier. In the United Kingdom, the season averaged 8.1 million viewers across the first nine episodes, as compared to season 10’s 5.4 million. There’s also been an increase in female viewership, which is broadly understandable given that this is the first female incarnation of the Doctor.
MORE FROM THE WEB
There’s a number of interpretations you could give to these figures. The most obvious is that the first season of any new Doctor is likely to beat the final season of an established one. The show famously uses the character’s regenerative powers to essentially soft reboot itself, with season 11 being an especially good jumping on point for new viewers.
That’s compounded by Chris Chibnall taking the reins as showrunner from Steven Moffatt, with a philosophy of not getting tangled up in continuity and preferring to tell one-and-done self-contained stories. In addition, switching to a Sunday night slot may have benefitted the series.
It remains to be seen whether Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor can maintain these figures, and we’re going to have a very long wait to find out, as the next season of Doctor Who won’t air until 2020. Fortunately, though, we’ve at least got the New Year’s special to look forward to, which will air January 1st, 2019.