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BBC makes history as Glastonbury viewing figures soar 12%

A whopping 20.9 million people tuned in to watch the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage this year, the highest audience in its history.

The figure, up 12% on last year’s event, represents the number of viewers who watched Glastonbury TV coverage for at least three minutes.

Unsurprisingly, it was man of the moment Ed Sheeran who delivered the highest ever average audience for a Glastonbury programme. Some 2.9m – and a record 1m peak audience of 4.1m – viewers watched his set, which sees Sheeran steal the crown from previous record holder Jeff Lynne of ELO, who drew an average audience of 2.4m.

BBC Two’s 6pm programme with Barry Gibb’s Sunday teatime legends slot scored an average audience of 2.48m (peak 1min audience of 3.7m); another record for the programme broadcasting the legends set.

Meanwhile, BBC Two’s headline sets with Radiohead on Friday and the Foo Fighters on Saturday also performed well, with average audiences of 811,000 (1min peak 1.32m) and 1.6m (1min peak 2.5m) respectively, which, says the BBC, is well above their slot averages.

On BBC Four, a surprise appearance by Elbow on Friday drew the biggest audience to Glastonbury content on the channel this year with an average audience of 784,000 – that’s a share of 4.1% and a 1min peak of 1.03m at 21:56. This was up on both the timeslot average of 336,000 (1.4% share), and exceeded the top performing Glastonbury BBC Four programme of 2016 which was ZZ Top/The Lumineers (631,000/share 3.4%).

BBC Four also achieved its highest ever reach for Glastonbury coverage with a record 5.7m viewers watching for 3min or more, up 8% year on year.

Online, fans could watch Glastonbury performances on the BBC Glastonbury website and BBC iPlayer, with over 100 performances across six stages streamed live. The BBC saw 4.5m requests for live streams on BBC iPlayer and the BBC’s Glastonbury website throughout the weekend increased by 84% compared to 2016 – with 3.5m unique browsers to the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online in the UK (up 23% on 2016).

Bob Shennan, director, BBC Radio and Music, said: “We’re delighted that this year’s Glastonbury festival has been enjoyed by a record number of people. BBC Music was able to bring audiences such an incredible range of genres from grime, reggae, rock and pop to memorable sets including Ed Sheeran, who made his Glastonbury debut only six years ago on the BBC Music Introducing Stage, and legendary artists Radiohead, The Foo Fighters and Barry Gibb. And all under a shining sun for a change!”

Both Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and Other Stage experienced technical difficulties over the course of the weekend, with Liam Gallagher and Katy Perry each enduring audio issues throughout their sets.