Jimmy Carr had the most streamed stand-up special of 2021

ExclusiveMonday 31st January 2022, 3:34pm by Jay Richardson

Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material. Jimmy Carr. Copyright: Netflix

Jimmy Carr had the most-streamed UK stand-up special in this country last year, despite only releasing it on Christmas Day, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal.

Carr's third Netflix original release, His Dark Material, was watched by more than 1.7million profiles in this country on the streaming service, with Russell Howard's Lubricant, also only released last month, second with almost 1.6million views. Beating several arena-filling acts, James Acaster's 2018 release Repertoire was third with 840,000 views.

Released simultaneously on Netflix, the tetralogy is made up of Acaster's Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated hours from 2014 to 2016, Recognise, Represent and Reset, as well as Recap, comprising older material.

Extending the DVD-era tradition of festive binging stand-up specials, Repertoire alone increased its viewership by 40% in December, pushing it ahead of Ricky Gervais' Humanity and Michael McIntyre's Showman, according to figures compiled by mediatech firm Digital i.

Greg Davies, Jack Whitehall, Phil Wang and Daniel Sloss rounded out the chart, which is exclusively made up of Netflix releases.

Wang's showing was impressive, as his debut, Philly Philly Wang Wang, was only released in August, while Howard was the sole act to claim a second top 10 placing, at ten, for 2017's Recalibrate.

The full top 10 was as follows:

Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material. Jimmy Carr. Copyright: Netflix

1. Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material (2021)

Russell Howard: Lubricant. Russell Howard

2. Russell Howard: Lubricant (2021)

James Acaster: Repertoire. James Acaster

3. James Acaster: Repertoire (2018)

Ricky Gervais: Humanity. Ricky Gervais

4. Ricky Gervais: Humanity (2018)

Michael McIntyre: Showman. Michael McIntyre. Copyright: Netflix

5. Michael McIntyre: Showman (2020)

Greg Davies

6. Greg Davies: You Magnificent Beast (2018)

Jack Whitehall: I'm Only Joking. Jack Whitehall

7. Jack Whitehall: I'm Only Joking (2020)

Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang. Phil Wang. Copyright: Avalon Television

8. Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang (2021)

Daniel Sloss: Live Shows. Daniel Sloss

9. Daniel Sloss: Live Shows (2018)

Russell Howard: Recalibrate. Russell Howard. Copyright: Avalon Television

10. Russell Howard: Recalibrate (2017)

No women featured in the run down, though that is largely explained by Netflix's reluctance to commission female comics from this country. Only Katherine Ryan, London Hughes, Gina Yashere, Mae Martin, Aisling Bea and Ellie Taylor fitted BCG's criteria for consideration of being from the UK or an act based here.

Amazon Prime claims a better gender balance for UK acts, having commissioned specials from the likes of Flo & Joan, Jayde Adams, Shaparak Khorsandi, Josie Long, Jessie Cave, Jen Brister, Aditi Mittal and Lazy Susan.

Yet none of these featured among the most watched on the platform, which was topped by Acaster's Off Menu podcastmate Ed Gamble with 146,000 views. Paul Chowdhry was watched by 130,000 and Chris Ramsey 109,000.

The top 10 specials available on Amazon Prime were:

Ed Gamble: Blood Sugar. Ed Gamble. Copyright: Avalon Television

1. Ed Gamble: Blood Sugar (2019)

Paul Chowdhry: Live Innit. Paul Chowdhry. Copyright: Avalon Television

2. Paul Chowdhry: Live Innit (2019)

Chris Ramsey: Approval Needed. Chris Ramsey. Copyright: Avalon Television

3. Chris Ramsey: Approval Needed (2019)

Lee Evans: Monsters. Lee Evans. Copyright: Open Mike Productions

4. Lee Evans: Monsters (2014)

Dara O Briain: Voice Of Reason. Dara O Briain. Copyright: Off The Kerb

5. Dara O Briain: Voice Of Reason (2020)

Tim Minchin. Copyright: Damian Bennett

6. Tim Minchin And The Heritage Orchestra (2011)

Al Murray. Copyright: Avalon Television

7. Al Murray: One Man, One Guvnor (2014)

Andy Parsons

8. Andy Parsons: Live And Unleashed But Naturally Cautious (2015)

Danny Bhoy

9. Danny Bhoy: Subject To Change (2010)

Ed Byrne

10. Ed Byrne: Crowd Pleaser (2011)

Rankings were based on reach, specifically how many individual profile watched a show at least once for ten minutes or more.

As subscription platforms, Netflix and Amazon Prime generally don't release viewing figures for their shows. But they do release data to members of the public about their personal viewing history, for Netflix here and Amazon Prime here.

Digital i extrapolates ratings from the thousands of viewers to whom it pays a small fee for their data. They revealed last year for example, in an article on ratings in The Guardian, that the third series of Netflix's comedy Sex Education was released on the same day as its much talked-about South Korean survival drama Squid Game and performed just as well in Europe but received a fraction of the hype.

His Dark Material's topping of the chart capped a great year for Carr, whose memoir Before & Laughter, published in September, sold £492,000 worth of copies. However, that figure was dwarfed by that of Bob Mortimer's autobiography, And Away..., which was also released in September and took almost £4 million.

For context, Carr and Howard's audience would have beaten that for Dave Chappelle, whose 2021 release The Closer was watched by 1.13 million in this country. However, the US star would have had two further specials in the top 10.

"The viewing of UK stand-up specials on Netflix and Prime follow the same viewing pattern as the majority of original content. When the shows are first launched on a platform, they experience a huge uptake in viewing, however, this rarely lasts longer than a few weeks" Sam Vahdati, marketing executive for Digital i, told BCG.

"In comparison, the US stand-up specials, while not generating as large an influx of viewers as their UK counterparts, do receive a higher level of sustained viewing over time. It is possible that Netflix is leveraging the popularity of local comedians to draw new or inactive viewers to the platform. Overall, it's clear that streamed stand-up comedy is increasingly drawing in higher audiences in the UK than many live shows on traditional TV.

"Additionally, December is by far the most successful month for stand-up specials on streaming platforms. UK comedians are helping Netflix and Prime Video reach a wider audience. Much of the UK public spent December 2021 watching comedy on streaming platforms, while stand-up still ranks far behind sitcoms, it's on the rise and becoming more and more important for the platform's localisation strategies."

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