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The Rise of Planet Earth II

Though David Attenborough has been producing nature documentaries since the 1950s, this legendary presenter is not slowing down anytime soon. His latest series, Planet Earth II, has attracted over 13 million viewers in the United Kingdom and will be released internationally in the coming months. We will briefly look at the demand for this new series as well as its effect on David Attenborough’s older titles.

To see the popularity of Planet Earth II, its demand in the United Kingdom is plotted against the demand for another BBC One title that aired on the same day as its premiere: the period drama Poldark.

Poldark began the month with three times more demand than Planet Earth. However, once Planet Earth II premiered on November 6th, the documentary quickly overtook the drama in popularity. Demand for Poldark peaked on November 7th, the day after its season finale, but it only managed about 55% of Planet Earth’s peak demand. After its release, Planet Earth II has averaged twice as much demand as Poldark, establishing itself as the new must-see TV on Sunday in the UK.

This high demand for Planet Earth II can be partially attributed to the popularity of David Attenborough, so we look at some of his other series to see if they benefited from his high-profile new title.

The greatest increase in demand was naturally for Planet Earth II, but other series clearly enjoyed a boost in popularity. The second-most in-demand Attenborough title is an interview for the presenter’s 90th birthday, which aired earlier this year. However, older documentaries had the largest increases in popularity: the 2014 series Life Story grew by nearly 340% and the 2011 series Frozen Planet grew by 211%, representing significant new interest in these titles. Some titles were unaffected, even decreasing in popularity, but overall demand for Attenborough’s titles increased by an average of 67%.

The rise in demand of both Planet Earth II and his older series indicates the enduring popularity of David Attenborough in the United Kingdom and the timelessness of his nature documentaries.