Has Channel 4 Overcooked The Great British Bake Off?

Has Channel 4 Overcooked The Great British Bake Off?

Taking over British televisions every year since 2010, The Great British Bake Off has achieved national success, an international audience, and even a US spin-off: The Great American Baking Show. But, with the 10th series of the show currently on our screens, has the Bake Off gone stale?

After the production company’s controversial move from the BBC to Channel 4 for the 8th season in 2017, fans were in uproar. What used to be a guaranteed talking point is now struggling to conjure up the same interest and enthusiasm it once did.

Using search data, social media sentiment analysis and viewing figures, digital marketing agency AGY47 ponders whether the British public is falling out of love with The Great British Bake Off.

Viewing Figures

While viewing figures may be reaching record heights for Channel 4, the move from the BBC cut finale figures almost in half. Season 7’s finale — the last to be shown on the BBC — drew in a staggering 14 million overnight views, compared to the finale of Season 8, which pulled in 7.7 million overnight views for Channel 4.

Overnight views for the first episode of Season 8 also took a hit, reaching just 6.5 million on Channel 4, down from 10.4 million on the BBC the previous season.

The impact is not just visible across the opening and closing episodes, but the overall seasonal average of viewers has dropped dramatically. Looking at 7-day cumulative figures for viewers per episode, Season 7 averaged an impressive 13.6 million. Comparatively, Season 8 — the first after the Channel 4 migration — averaged 9 million, showing an average loss of over 4 million viewers per episode.

While this could be blamed on an initial reactionary response from viewers not happy with the move from the BBC, the average was similarly low for Season 9, at just 9.3 million. While Season 10 is still ongoing, the series got off to a similar start, with the opening episode achieving a 7-day viewing average of 9.6 million.

GBBO Viewing Figures

Trends

As well as Bake Off viewing figures in decline, there is a marked drop in search interest from the BBC’s last GBBO season in 2016, compared to this year’s 10th season, with a steady decline in search interest apparent each year since the Channel 4 migration.

Bake Off Search interest

Search Interest in The Great British Bake Off’ 2014-2019
Note refers to an improvement in Google’s data collection system from 01/01/2016

The peaks in this graph show when The Great British Bake Off was being televised, and interest this season is demonstratively at its lowest since the show’s 2015 series. While interest peaked at 100 for 2017’s series, the current series has failed to attract even half of this interest to date.

However, search interest for Mary Berry has maintained consistent momentum, even after her GBBO departure. Interest peaks annually after Mary Berry’s Christmas show is aired.

Mary Berry Search Interest

Search Interest in ‘Mary Berry’ vs ‘The Great British Bake Off’ 2014-2019
Note refers to an improvement in Google’s data collection system from 01/01/2016

Twitter

Our analysis of tweets about the current series seem to echo the idea that interest in the show is waning. Sentiment analysis of tweets about this year’s contestants to date show that while 36.6% have been positive, 63.4% have been neutral or negative, suggesting that audiences aren’t as invested in the contestants as perhaps they once were.

As the show draws to a close, our analysis of tweets has shown that after nine weeks, the final three bakers have never received the highest number of positive or negative tweets, suggesting indifference from the viewers.

Tweets

In fact, the contestants that have consistently provoked the most tweets have been Jamie and Henry. Jamie, who was eliminated in episode two, attracted 3,200 tweets in the first episode, nearly 2,000 more than the next closest candidate.

After Jamie’s elimination, Henry became the UK’s favourite, attracting the most tweets in four of the nine weeks. This even includes week nine, attracting over 1,400 tweets, though he was eliminated a week earlier!

The combined effort of the remaining contestants, Alice, David and Steph, pales in comparison. Tweeting figures only began to climb above 300 for Steph and David after week 7. Comparatively, week 7 saw Henry attract 1144 tweets.

Positive Tweets

The three finalists drew in just 2,210 tweets in week nine, only 700 more than Henry in an episode in which he did not even feature, and nearly 1,000 less than Jamie in the show’s opening episode. This may cause further issues with viewing figures towards the season finale as all audience favourites have now been eliminated.

The age of this season’s Bake Off contestants seems to be a popular Twitter talking point, with many complaining that there is a lack of age diversity among contestants. The average age of contestants has dropped from 37 in Season 1, to just 31 in Season 10.

Age of Contestants

With just two contestants over 40 in the current series compared to four in the first series, age seems to be a pain point for some viewers:

However, it may simply be that the tasks are becoming too convoluted and difficult for viewers. Since switching to Channel 4, the show has featured a more exotic range of themed challenges, such as a Spice week and a Vegan week. In the current series, the challenges have frustrated some Twitter users:

Some Twitter users still hold a candle for the BBC and more so, Mary Berry:

However, for some users, it’s not necessarily BBC loyalty, but the broadcasting services lack of adverts that made it so popular.

Declining interest in The Great British Bake Off seems to be the result of a combination of reasons. However, with a further 2 seasons of the show confirmed, will the nation’s love of this classic British series last until 2021?

Notes:
Tweets including the contestant’s name and the #GBBO hashtag were analysed.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_5)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_6)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_7)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_8)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_9)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off_(series_10)
https://www.standard.co.uk/stayingin/tvfilm/great-british-bake-off-launch-episode-loses-400000-viewers-a4222986.html

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