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BBC boss says ‘Bodyguard’ has drawn higher ratings than ‘The Crown’

BBC boss Tony Hall has said that BBC shows such as Luther and Bodyguard reached bigger audiences in the UK than Netflix’s The Crown, according to The Guardian.

Citing internal BBC data, Hall reflected on the size of Netflix’s viewing figures, claiming only 7m Brits watched The Crown despite the enormous spend on the show, during a media and telecoms conference in London.

Meanwhile, Hall suggested high-profile dramas such as Luther and Bodyguard reached larger audiences with a smaller budget on the BBC.

“I mentioned the Bodyguard finale reaching 17m viewers. That was in one month. Our data suggests The Crown reached 7m [UK] users in 17 months,” he said.

While Netflix does not reveal the number of people that view its shows, a BBC spokesperson has said Hall’s source for viewing figures was a nationally representative survey commissioned by the pubcaster last year. In April 2018 the BBC asked whether people had watched at least 15 minutes of The Crown within a given time period.

Netflix declined to comment on the figures.

Hall’s comments arrived as he urged the BBC to improve its online offering and prepare for an era where license fee payers never watch live television channels and loosen some of its stiff media regulations in order to compete with giants such as Amazon and Netflix.

“The landscape in which we operate has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade. But our regulation has stayed largely the same,” he said.

Earlier this month, the BBC tied up with ITV to launch Netflix rival Britbox UK, a paid-for subscription service that will offer British content alongside new Britbox originals commissioned from UK production companies.