Mercury Prize BBC TV coverage reaches 5.4 million viewers

Mercury Prize BBC TV coverage reaches 5.4 million viewers

BBC Music has revealed that this year’s TV coverage for the Hyundai Mercury Prize reached 5.4 million viewers.

The combined audience covers the high-profile announcement of Michael Kiwanuka as the Mercury Prize winner during BBC One’s The One Show, as well as the BBC Four special with performances from shortlisted acts and a Later… With Jools Holland special featuring an extended interview with Kiwanuka.

The BBC One broadcast will have delivered a significantly larger audience than the BBC Four awards ceremony programme in previous years.

On the radio there were 400,000 listeners to the live announcement on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music.

Rachel Davies, commissioning executive, BBC Music, said: “Although the annual Mercury Prize Awards show was unable to go ahead this year, we’re delighted that the BBC was able to showcase the achievements of the 12 talented shortlisted artists and celebrate the remarkable winning album by Michael Kiwanuka, across BBC TV, radio and online, bringing his work to an audience of millions.”

The BBC has not provided a breakdown of the audiences across the three TV broadcasts.

Michael Kiwanuka is targeting a return to the Top 5 today with his winning album, Kiwanuka.

According to the BPI, it would be the biggest chart impact for the Hyundai Mercury Prize winner since The xx triumphed in 2010. The dramatic climb up the charts reflects a 4,537% rise in purchases of the album over the past week across vinyl, CD and downloads, and a rise of almost 800% in the number of audio streams of the album’s tracks. The week-on-week increase compares sales from 25-29 September with sales from 18-22 September.

In such a challenging year, we are delighted by the impact of the expanded BBC broadcast coverage and by the huge response to Michael’s deserved win

Geoff Taylor

Kiwankua is also making its mark on digital music platforms, shooting up to No.1 on both iTunes (with album purchases up 671% in the first 24 hours) and Amazon, while video views from search on Hyundai Music Prize digital partner YouTube in the UK have risen by 1,035%.

Global Spotify streams coming from search are up 225%, and overall, since the winner’s announcement, website traffic for Kiwanuka across various platforms has rocketed by 1,300% and remains at a 500% increase on the previous period. Google Search volumes for Michael Kiwanuka rose to double the amount he experienced around the initial release of Kiwanuka almost a year ago.

Demand for the other shortlisted artists has also shown a significant rise, with Official Charts data showing a combined increase in physical and downloaded album sales of 515%. (Charli XCX's sales have been stripped out of the calculations due to the potential distorting effect of a new physical edition). 

The week-on-week sales increases are: Lanterns On The Lake’s Spook The Herd (+425%), Anna Meredith’s Fibs (+421%), Georgia’s Seeking Thrills (+220%), Porridge Radio’s Every Bad (+192%), Moses Boyd’s Dark Matter (+180%), Laura Marling’s Song For Our Daughter (+72%), Sports Team’s Deep Down Happy (+49%) and Kano’s Hoodies All Summer (+56%). Even shortlisted artists who have already enjoyed No.1 albums are showing a rise in demand with sales of Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia up by just over a quarter (27%) and Stormzy’s Heavy is the Head rising by a fifth (19%).

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI, which is also home to the Hyundai Mercury Prize, said: “As the nation’s foremost arts prize for music, the Hyundai Mercury Prize celebrates the very best music of the year across all genres, and helps to bring it to a wider audience. In such a challenging year, we are delighted by the impact of the expanded BBC broadcast coverage and by the huge response to Michael’s deserved win. We encourage fans to dive into all 12 Albums Of The Year 2020 – there is so much profound brilliance to discover.”

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