Critics, including our very own, seemed to enjoy the first outing of “Doctor Who” for its ninth season, but viewers in the United Kingdom didn’t necessarily turn out.
“The Magician’s Apprentice” attracted 4.6 million viewers on the BBC Saturday night, compared to 6.8 million for Peter Capaldi’s debut the year before. Although BBC News cautions that alternative viewing platforms still haven’t checked in, this still starts to raise some serious eyebrows on where the franchise is going, and if the fans will follow.
The first season of the revived show pulled in 10.8 million total viewers for its premiere with Christopher Eccleston, but would go on to average of 7.9 million viewers. The first season with David Tennant at the helm averaged just about the same — 7.9 million.
There was a small dip in average viewership when Matt Smith took over, averaging 7.7 million viewers, but “Doctor Who” still remained steady.
Capaldi’s first season saw that dip continue in total viewership, dropping to just under 7.3 million.
There is a good chance that once full numbers are brought in, the premiere will end up at least a million viewers higher. However, “Doctor Who” is really going to depend on word-of-mouth for the second part of its premiere to ensure viewer support continues.
One thing to note is that scripted dramas don’t usually trend upward in viewership, especially over long periods of time. Considering the typical series goes just five seasons, the fact that “Doctor Who” has seen just a minimal decline in viewership between Season 1 and Season 8 says a lot for the strength of the franchise, especially over time.
“Doctor Who” airs Saturdays on BBC, BBC America and Space.