Hit Drama ‘Normal People’ Sparks Streaming Surge for BBC Three

Normal People
(PhElement Pictures/Enda Bowe)

Already a hit with critics, the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” is winning over audiences in the U.K. with more than 16.2 million requests for the series on catch-up service BBC iPlayer in its first week.

Nearly five million of these requests come from the 16-34 age group, a coveted demographic for the BBC that has been hit by an exodus of younger viewers to platforms like Netflix and YouTube.

The “Normal People” request figures have helped drive commissioning broadcaster BBC Three to its best week ever for program requests on iPlayer, more than doubling the previous record.

In the seven-day period since the series premiered on BBC iPlayer on 26 April, total requests for BBC Three programs stand at over 21.8 million.

“Normal People” makes up for over 70% of the total and according to data collected from registered users, a quarter of all accounts requesting it have already watched the whole series.

The BBC Three figures have no doubt been bolstered by the BBC’s decision to play the drama in prime time on BBC One, where it has generated extra attention.

The previous record for BBC Three was 10.8 million total requests in a week, following the release of the first season of “Killing Eve” in 2018

“Normal People” is an Element Pictures production, and is released in the U.S. on streaming platform Hulu. The 12-part drama has been adapted from the novel by Sally Rooney by Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe alongside Rooney.

It’s helmed by “Room” director Lenny Abrahamson, who shares directorial duties with Hettie McDonald, whose credits include “Howard’s End.”

The drama features standout performances from leads Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three, said: “From the initial read-through, the phenomenal thought and preparation the directors put into everything from the aesthetics and locations through to the costumes, we felt this incredible piece would always be unique, and it’s clear the audience thinks so too.”