Baftas TV audience falls to 3.5m

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BBC showed awards ceremony on a time delay, meaning some viewers knew results

The Baftas attracted an audience of only 3.5 million viewers on Sunday night, amid criticism of the decision to broadcast the film awards on a time delay and poor reviews for the host, Joanna Lumley.

The ceremony began at 7pm on Sunday and the BBC One broadcast started two hours later, meaning the winners of most categories were all over social media and news websites before TV viewers were able to tune in.

Those watching at home saw that Roma had won the best film prize at 10.30pm, more than an hour after its director, Alfonso Cuarón, had stood on stage to accept the award.

The show’s TV audience has fallen by 2 million in the last six years, according to official viewing figures provided by Overnights.tv, despite evidence of enormous interest in the awards on social media.

The time delay meant viewers could not tweet along with a live broadcast and feel like they were taking part in the show, something that has helped other live events.

Lumley, who returned for a second stint as host, received largely negative reviews after a series of attempted jokes fell flat.

However, BBC bosses may be reluctant to show the ceremony at an earlier time as it would mean bumping a substantially more popular show such as Call the Midwife from a peak Sunday early evening time slot.

ITV appeared to benefit, attracting 5 million viewers to a new episode of the Inspector Morse spin-off series Endeavour during the same time slot as the Baftas.

The figures come at a time of substantial decline in live TV viewing, as the public switch in substantial numbers to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

Last week figures by Enders Analysis showed the average time spent watching traditional TV broadcasts fell 5% in the last 12 months, and by 13% among 16- to 34-year-olds, almost all of which was attributed to the growth in popularity of streaming services.

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