'Great British Bake Off' Ends BBC Run With 4.6M Viewers for Special, Well Below Regular Season Finale

The Great British Bake Off: 5 - Love Productions 2014 - Mary Berry - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of © Mark Bourdillon

The second part of a Christmas special of the show, which Channel 4 is taking over, aired on the U.K. public broadcaster Monday evening.

Only about 4.6 million viewers tuned in as baking competition The Great British Bake Off said its farewell on the BBC with a holiday season special on Monday, according to data released on Tuesday.

The U.K. public broadcaster earlier this year lost the show to Channel 4.

The Monday night Boxing Day special that aired on flagship channel BBC One at 7 p.m. drew an average audience of 4.6 million viewers. The first part of the special had attracted an audience of 6.3 million at 4.45 p.m. on Sunday, Christmas Day.

The Sunday special ranked second on British TV for the day behind the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special (7.2 million viewers), while Monday's Bake Off episode fell behind ITV's Coronation Street (nearly 6.0 million viewers), the BBC's EastEnders (5.9 million), ITV's Emmerdale (5.6 million) and the BBC's The Witness for the Prosecution (4.7 million).

The holiday special ratings for Bake Off were well below the hit show's record 14.0 million overnight viewers for the final episode of its regular season, according to overnight data released by BBC representatives at the time.

Big shows in Britain have often attracted smaller overnight audiences over the Christmas holidays in recent years amid changing viewing behavior. The consolidated audience figures, including catch-up viewing, end up higher.

Bake Off was a modest hit when it premiered in 2010 on BBC Two. But the good-natured competition show was later moved to flagship channel BBC One and ended up becoming one of the biggest shows in U.K. history. 

Channel 4 earlier this year unveiled a three-year deal for the show, snatching it from public broadcaster BBC and causing much debate. The move is effective following the end of this season. Channel 4 said the first Bake Off content planned is a celebrity version of the show in 2017 from production firm Love Productions.

Hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc immediately said that they would quit the show when it leaves the BBC. Bake Off will also lose judge Mary Berry, but fellow judge Paul Hollywood will continue on the show for three seasons under a deal reached with Channel 4.

The BBC has been developing new shows with Berry, Perkins and Giedroyc.