King Charles’ first Christmas message drew the highest viewership figures this century for the monarch’s traditional festive address, as audience figures showed overnight.
More channels than ever aired the 3 p.m. address – and the combined audience was 10.7 million.
By comparison, Queen Elizabeth II’s last Christmas message a year ago was seen by 8.96 million viewers.
The King paid tribute to his mother’s work during his first festive speech.
He also took the opportunity to reflect on the current cost of living crisis, talking about those struggling to pay their bills.
According to figures compiled by the University of Sussex, viewership for the late Queen’s annual show dipped below 10 million in the late 1990s and has yet to climb that high.
In recent years, The Message has consistently been the most-watched Christmas Day show – but that’s because viewers have increasingly turned off other Christmas shows or are just watching them later. The Queen’s Speech was still considered by many to be a live event to watch at the time of transmission, even though it was actually pre-recorded.
Heightened interest in what the King would say in his first message meant it was simulcast on BBC One, ITV1, ITV3, Sky News and GB News – with a signed version on BBC Two.
The BBC can also claim to have won the viewership battle with seven of the top 10 shows airing on BBC One.
Viewership numbers are based on “overnight” numbers – largely based on viewers watching the programs live. They therefore do not include viewers who watch Christmas specials on catch-up services during the rest of the holiday season.
According to ratings organization Barb, Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas Special was the second biggest hit of the day, with 5.44 million viewers tuning in to watch Coronation Street star Alexandra Mardell lift the special trophy based on a Christmas star.
This year’s Festive Soap Battle saw EastEnders come out on top in eighth place. Soap actor Danny Dyer attracted 3.17 million viewers who watched him leave Albert Square after nine years playing Queen Vic owner Mick Carter.
The next most-watched Christmas Day soap opera was ITV’s Coronation Street, which came in ninth place with 2.85 million viewers. But Emmerdale completely missed out on a Top 10 spot.
ITV’s top performing programme, despite a late timeslot, was Doc Martin with 3.26 million viewers.
But the BBC got the six most-watched programs, including its shared screening of the King’s Christmas message.
Charlotte Moore, Head of Content, said: “Winning the Christmas Day ratings crowns an incredible centenary of world-class content on the BBC. In a time of so much competition and choice, the BBC continues to to be the UK’s entertainment destination on Christmas Day.