'Great British Bake Off' returns to ratings low: Is the bubble bursting on reality shows?

·2-min read
'The Great British Bake Off' returned to screens on Tuesday, September 21 (Channel 4)
'The Great British Bake Off' returned to screens on Tuesday, September 21 (Channel 4)

The Great British Bake Off is the latest reality show to suffer a ratings slump on its launch landing its lowest launch ratings since its move to Channel 4.

Noel Fielding, Matt Lucas, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith returned to the tent last night with a brand new collection of bakers eager to whip up a frenzy.

Read more: James Jordan: Unvaccinated dancers don't deserve to be on 'Strictly'

However, overnight ratings collated by Broadcast reports that only 5.7 million people tuned in to watch the show — down a massive 1.3 million on 2020’s series launch.

Noel, Prue and Paul.
The feelgood cooking show kicked off with its annual Bake Week. (Channel 4)

It’s important to note that overnight ratings do not include On Demand or viewers from Channel 4+1. The episode also took a knock when streaming service All4 crashed shortly after the show began, taking a chunk of ratings with it.

With lockdown coming back into effect back in 2020, Bake Off found itself a comfort blanket for British viewers, with a record-breaking 7 million viewers tuning in to watch that year’s launch in the midst of the pandemic.

It was Channel 4’s biggest ever launch date for any show, having acquired Bake Off from the BBC in 2017.

Is the bubble bursting with reality shows?

The launch of <em>Love Island 2021 </em>had the show's lowest overnight ratings in four years. (ITV)
The launch of Love Island 2021 had the show's lowest overnight ratings in four years. (ITV)

With lockdown easing, it seems that reality shows and competitions are all taking knocks from their usually guaranteed ratings.

Strictly Come Dancing, which returned to our screens last weekend, suffered its lowest ratings since its launch 11 years ago, with just 7 million viewers. 

Read more: Piers Morgan mocks Dan Walker over Strictly's lowest launch ratings ever

Similarly, ITV2 juggernaut Love Island returned in June and was only watched by 2.47 million, the lowest numbers the show had seen in four years.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Launch Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Gorka Marquez, Karen Hauer - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launched on Saturday night. (BBC)

That leaves newcomers like Katherine Ryan’s Ready To Mingle, which launched days after the Love Island finale, struggling to secure ratings with its first episode raking in just 120,000 viewers.

But again, these numbers only factor in overnight ratings, with streaming, catch-ups and mobile watches not included in the numbers.

As well as this, Love Island and Bake Off has been well-received over in the US, with Hulu picking up Love Island and Netflix streaming Bake Off for international viewers.

All eyes will be on ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here launch later this year to see whether reality shows can bounce back in the ratings.

Watch: The Great British Bake Off 2021 trailer

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