'Sherlock' Helps Boost BBC iPlayer to Record Viewer Numbers

The Empty Hearse

When Sherlock returns in 2014, the first episode -- titled "The Empty Hearse" -- is loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Empty House." In announcing the U.K. premiere date, a hearse displaying the return drove around London on Nov. 29.

The Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman show helped the U.K. public broadcaster's catch-up VOD service surpass 300 million requests in January.

LONDON – BBC hit show Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson, helped the BBC iPlayer service hit a record number of program requests in January.

The first month of 2014 was the biggest month ever for BBC iPlayer, with over 315 million TV and radio requests -- the first time it has passed the 300 million mark.

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January recorded an average of 10.2 million daily requests, another record, the U.K. public broadcaster said.

The third season of Sherlock was "particularly popular," the BBC said, as the first of three episodes -- The Empty Hearse -- generated over 3.6 million requests.

That makes it the third-most requested program of all time on the service.

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The Voice has also had a strong start, along with the new series Outnumbered.

With so many tablets and mobiles being gifted during the holiday season, the number of requests via mobiles and tablets accounted for 40 percent of all requests, a total of 127 million overall – another record high.

The BBC's catch-up service and web-based VOD launched on Christmas in 2007.