Over the past few days, various different claims have been made about the number of people who watched – or were supposed to watch – the Queen’s funeral on TV.
The 4.1 billion figure appears to be based on comments allegedly made by Carolina Beltramo, television analyst for Watch TV Abroad—a website that provides information on how to watch various popular TV programs in different countries.
Ms Beltramo is quoted as saying: ‘Generations of people across the world will not have been alive the last time pomp and pageantry was seen on this scale.
“Although it is a sad occasion, they can be forgiven for being captivated by a spectacle that resonates through history. For this reason alone, they will be attracted by the billions to witness the dawn of this new era.
“As many as 4.1 billion people are expected to tune in on Monday to witness this historic moment as half of planet Earth’s inhabitants pause to pay their respects.”
Ms Beltramo did not explain how the 4.1 billion figure was calculated, and Full Fact was unable to find further details on how it was calculated. For example, it’s unclear whether this number refers to the number of people who tuned in to the funeral at any given time or peak viewership, and whether it refers to viewers or viewers across all platforms ( including social media and streaming sites). We were unable to find another source for the claim.
We contacted WatchTVAbroad to ask how it arrived at this estimate, but did not hear back before publication. We’ll update this fact check if they respond.
Despite this, many new outlets appear to have brought in the 4.1 billion figure at face value. We have contacted LBC, MailOnline and Metro for comment.
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What about claims that the BBC reported an audience of 5.1 billion?
Claims that 5.1 billion people worldwide watched the Queen’s funeral have also gone viral.
A Facebook postwhich was shared more than 23,000 times before being later deleted, said: “The BBC reports that 5.1 billion people watched the funeral, or around 63.2% of [world’s] population and the largest single event watched or streamed in history…”
The exact origins of this claim are unclear, with several Alike wording the messages making the complaint are still circulating on social networks. Many of these posts were shared while funeral coverage was still ongoing.
A BBC spokesperson told Full Fact that it had not published the 5.1 billion figure, and we found no evidence that it had been reported by the BBC News website or other major BBC news outlets.
However, since we first published this fact check, a Full Fact reader alerted us to the 5.1 billion figure being used on BBC Radio Stoke. We found at least one example of this, when just after 7:00 a.m. on September 20 [clip at 1:08:12] the station said: “Yesterday’s events were watched by 5.1 billion people worldwide, or 63% of the planet’s population.”
We have contacted the BBC Press Office and BBC Radio Stoke to ask why they used this figure and if they are aware of any other instances where the figure may have been used by local BBC broadcasters. However, it’s worth noting that this mention happened after the claim we mentioned above started circulating on Facebook.
What do we know about viewing figures?
There is no single source for TV viewing figures around the world, with estimates based on viewing figures provided by each country.
Shortly before Full Fact released this fact check, the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) – which provides data on the most-watched TV programs in the UK – tweeted“The average viewership for the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey (11am-12.06pm) was 26.2 million across all channels. The span was 29.2 m, a share of 95%. »
While we haven’t seen BARB’s full data yet, those numbers appear to represent an audience of less than half of the United Kingdom population.
In Australia, where the Queen was head of state and the funeral was broadcast live in the evening, the Sydney Morning Herald estimated that, based on viewership figures released overnight, a peak audience of 5.17 million viewers watched the funeral, about one-fifth of the country.
However, these numbers only include viewers who watched the funeral via TV, not other devices such as laptops or smartphones.
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Stone Cut