ITV’s new drama, Mr Bates vs. the Post Office, has been named the most watched programme of the year so far, with over 9.2 million viewers watching the first episode.
It comes three years since the Pembrokeshire Murders, which held the title of the most watched programme, which debuted in January 2021 when the UK was in lockdown.
The four episode series is the most watched programmes on any channel so far this year, with the series, including the documentary, reaching 14.8 million views.
On ITVX, the ITV Studios and Little Gem Media series has been streamed 12.3 million times in just eight days.
For the year to date (1st-8th January 2024), ITVX has had 70.1 million streams, its best ever start to the year and up on last year by more than a third (39%). ITV1 also had its best start to the year for more than a decade, it revealed, with an all time share of 18.4% for the first eight days of the year.
For linear launch alone, Mr Bates vs. The Post Office was the most watched programme across all channels with 3.9m, beating The Tourist on BBC1 (2.2m), and retaining its live audience for four consecutive nights.
ITV Media & Entertainment Managing Director Kevin Lygo said: “The unwavering success of Mr Bates vs. The Post Office demonstrates the undeniable power of TV, particularly public service broadcasting.
“Aside from it being a ratings hit, dramatising the story with such a high calibre of British actors has reignited the campaign for justice nearly 25 years on, for a group of ordinary people – and the entire nation is behind them.”
ITV Head of Drama Polly Hill continued: “We commissioned this drama because it was a story that demanded to be told. Like everyone watching the show, I couldn’t believe what had happened. We all just wanted the drama to help get that story heard by as many people as we could.
“We are all proud and overwhelmed by the power our drama has had. Alan, Jo, Lee, Jess and every sub-postmaster and sub-postmistress are being heard now, and it looks like they will finally get the justice they deserve. ITV is proud to have told this story and to support the sub-postmasters.”