Exclusive: Olivier Awards viewing figures near one million

Almost one million people watched this year’s Olivier Awards through various media revealing a “strong demand” for the ceremony to be broadcast on mainstream television, the Society of London Theatre says.

According to official figures from SOLT, which organised the ceremony, a total of 681,000 people watched highlights of the Oliviers on the BBC via the broadcaster’s ‘red button’.

The highlights package was on the red button between April 16 and April 20, with an average viewing time of 19 minutes. Also, 181,000 used the red button to watch the Olivier Awards live from the Royal Opera House on April 15 – up from 177,000 people last year, with an average viewing time of 34 minutes.

A further 31,000 watched the live stream of the event online, bringing the total number of people watching the show to 893,000.

When figures for those who used the iPlayer to watch highlights of the ceremony and those who listened live on BBC Radio 2 are added to SOLT’s statistics, the total number of people who watched or listened is expected to be significantly higher. These figures have not been made available.

SOLT chief executive Julian Bird said: “We hope this shows the strong demand there is for such a programme – in the future the BBC might consider putting it on one of its mainstream channels.” He added that SOLT was in the middle of “extensive conversations with the BBC about the Oliviers in 2013″.

Radio 2′s head of programmes Lewis Carnie said the “Oliviers this year for both Radio 2 and red button were extremely successful.

“I’m delighted that so many people tuned in to watch the stunning performances and awards.”

The Oliviers were filmed until 2003, when they were televised after the event on BBC2. Between 2004 and 2010, they had no mainstream TV coverage.

Last year, the awards were held at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and were broadcast live by the BBC – via the red button – for the first time in the event’s history.

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