For Doctor Who fans everywhere, the Doctor has become an essential part of the Christmas season. Ever since the first Christmas special back in 2005, we've been able to count on some time travel shenanigans to close out the year. The 2016 special was unlike anything Doctor Who had attempted before, and a lot of people on the American side of the pond tuned in to check it out. "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" broke ratings records for BBC America.
"The Return of Doctor Mysterio" aired on December 25, 2016, and plenty of people made time in their holiday festivities for the Doctor. 1.7 million total viewers tuned in for the Christmas special. The Live+3 day measurements indicate that 900,000 of those viewers were adults in the important 18 - 49 and 25 - 54 age demographics, according to Deadline. The numbers turned "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" into BBC America's most successful telecast of the entire year in all the key demos. With less than a week left in 2016, Doctor Who managed to score a record high for the year for BBC America.
In addition to the record-breaking numbers in overall viewership and demographic, the Doctor Who Christmas special was a hit on social media. In fact, "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" was the most social program on Christmas night in the key social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook. All in all, BBC America had a pretty special Christmas thanks to Doctor Who.
There are a few reasons why "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" was an especially huge hit for BBC America on Christmas evening in 2016. The biggest reason might simply be that Doctor Who had been off the air without any new episodes since the Christmas special in 2015. Most years, the show has at least half a season that aired between Christmas specials. By December 2016, the Doctor was on hiatus for an entire year. Fans who have been waiting months for new material may have been especially motivated to catch the new Christmas special.
Another factor in the great numbers for "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" might be the subject matter. The episode was distinctly superhero-themed, and it even featured a handful of nods to Marvel and DC Comics throughout the episode. Superheroes are a big draw for viewers on the big and small screen alike nowadays; Doctor Who may have capitalized on the genre that has smashed box office records for films and created some of the most talked-about shows on television.
A third reason for the high ratings for "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" is just that there's not always a ton to watch on TV on Christmas day, and the Doctor Who special was something new, whimsical, and exciting that was just right for the holidays. All in all, the numbers were a great way to end the year for Doctor Who, and they may indicate that plenty of people will tune in for Season 10 when it premieres later in 2017. The Doctor will have a new companion on board for a new set of adventures, so it should be worth the watch. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what you can catch in the meantime.