Image: BBC World Wide Limited / Alex Howe
Image: BBC World Wide Limited / Alex Howe
Remember a couple of months back when Chris Evans used Top Gear’s popularity on iPlayer to defend the show’s falling overnight ratings, claiming its online popularity was “repositioning the way” people watched TV? Did you notice that he quickly stopped doing so? Ever wonder why?

If so, wonder no longer.

The BBC’s iPlayer performance pack for April-June has revealed that the show tanked just as badly online as it did on BBC Two.

The first episode clocked up 1,443,000 iPlayer views, making it not just the most popular episode of the show that quarter, but also the most popular episode of any show.

And interest held steady for the second episode which drew 1,426,000 views.

So far, so good.

But by the time of the third episode those numbers fell to 1,200,000 and dropped again for episode four to just 901,000.

That’s a decline of more than half a million – a third of the online audience – across the four episodes.

By this point the show was bleeding viewers for its weekly broadcasts and episode four’s iPayer drop off can’t even be accounted for by any increase in traditional viewing – the original BBC Two transmission on the 19th clocked up 3.224m views (including recordings watched within 7 days) versus 3.436m for the previous week’s episode.

Episode five, which aired on June 26th, doesn’t even make the iPlayer most watched list meaning it was less popular than the following night’s EastEnders which clocked up 895,000 views.

As the final episode aired in July we’ll have to wait a while before we see if the fall continued.

But we can now be pretty positive that spin and bombast aside, Top Gear was a failure both in terms of broadcast and online audiences.

Evans says he did his best, Licence Fee payers couldn’t have delivered a clearer or harsher verdict on his efforts.

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