GBBO: BBC vs. Channel 4: Who wins the online battle?


Search Labs

Global Affairs

One of the most controversial TV stories of the past few years was undoubtedly, smash hit, The Great British Bake Off’s move from the BBC to Channel 4. Losing its iconic queen of baking, Mary Berry, and dynamic pun-loving presenting duo Mel and Sue, along the way always meant the transition was going to be hard, but just how have fans reacted to the new series?

To find out, our Social Media team worked with social data insight platform, Pulsar, to analyse the amount of Twitter interest in the Channel 4 show this year compared to the BBC show last year, and the sentiment behind those tweets. Take a look at our results below:

The final week

We looked at specific ‘keyword mentions’ of the show on Twitter in the week preceding the 2017 final. That analysis included the number of tweets, the engagements on those tweets, and overall impressions. This year, there were 13,998 mentions of the Channel 4 show over the course of the week, with 16,358 engagements, leading to 22,837,277 impressions.

If we compare that to the final week of the 2016 final, the difference is staggering. There were 42,270 Twitter mentions of the BBC show – that’s over three times as many tweets – with 56,959 engagements, leading to over 117 million impressions.

To get a picture of how positive or negative these tweets might be, we also looked at the sentiment of them. Of the tweets we analysed: 64% expressed joy, 18% sadness, and 11% disgust. Compared to 2016’s results which showed 70% of tweets were categorized as ‘Joyful’, compared to 20% conveying ‘Sadness’ and 6% ‘Disgust.’

Result: BBC WIN

BBC wins hands down with three times as many tweets, four times as many engagements and twice as many impressions. Positive sentiment has decreased slightly, with tweets classed as ‘disgust’ up from 7% to 11%.

The final day

The final show is the GBBO’s very own showstopper and always pulls in the most viewers. 76% of all tweets relating to GBBO over the course of the final week this year came on the day of the final, so it’s a vital, standalone event to help judge the reactions of viewers.

This year 10,650 of the total 13,998 tweets of the final week were posted the day of the final, leading to 8,614 engagements and 11,411,957 impressions. Interestingly, that means the number of engagements were significantly lower than the number of tweets.

On the day of the BBC’s 2016 final GBBO broadcast there were 29,801 mentions of the show and 32,873 engagements, leading to 62,978,697 impressions on the final day, again indicating a real nosedive in online interest.

Following the trend of the final week, positive sentiment (expressing ‘joy’) on this year’s show is also down, from 66% in 2016 to 60% in 2017.

Result: BBC WIN

BBC does the double, with three times more tweets, four times as many engagements and nearly six times as many impressions. Channel 4 also suffered because of a lack of engagement rate on the final day.

The presenters

With Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig, and Noel Fielding taking the place of Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, and Sue Perkins, we looked at Twitter’s reaction to this year’s new quartet compared to the old dream team.

The most talked about presenter this year was, undoubtedly, Prue Leith. Over the course of the final week, there were 1,168 tweets about them, with a staggering 1,110 coming on the final day alone after Bake Off’s new recruit made a gaffe and announced the winner earlier in the day.

Unsurprisingly, this meant Prue had the lowest positive sentiment rating of any presenter of this series or last, with only 48% expressing joy, a further 22% sadness, and 22% disgust.

If we compare the Paul of this year to last year, his approval ratings also seem to have dropped off a cliff, with only 51% of tweets expressing joy, and worryingly perhaps for Channel 4 bosses, 37% showing ‘disgust’.

It won’t surprise anyone to know that Mary Berry was the most talked about presenter of last year’s Bake Off. The nation took her to their hearts and were dually devastated when she announced she was leaving the show. Mary was mentioned 5,255 times in the final week of last year’s, followed by Mel in second with 5,987 mentions.

However, according to Twitter, Mary Berry is not the presenter that makes fans the happiest. Both of this year’s presenters had a higher percentage of happy tweets, with 89% of tweets about Sandi Toksvig expressing ‘joy’ and 85% for Noel.


Result: TIE

When it comes to raw figures, Mary is still the queen of the Bake Off tent, but as far as positive sentiment goes, Noel and Sandi come out on top with the two highest percentages of ‘happy tweets’. Prue’s gaffe means she has the lowest percentage of positive tweets, and since the move to Channel 4, Paul has the highest percentage of posts displaying ‘disgust’ of any presenter in either year.

The contestants

Like everyone else, we were caught unawares by Prue’s Twitter gaffe yesterday and it undoubtedly caused ripples online. If we look at tweets and sentiment around both 2016 and 2017’s finalists, the winner understandably comes out with the most tweets on both years. Last year’s winner Candice got 7524 mentions compared to the runners up Andrew (3,229 mentions) and Jane (1,810 mentions).

Following the pattern of the rest, tweets for the contestants are way down this year. The overall winner, Sarah, got 1,253 mentions, compared to 424 for Steven and only 298 for poor Kate, but we may have Prue to ‘thank’ for that.

Result: BBC WIN

In the aftermath of #PrueGate it’s hardly surprising that interest on the day of the show wasn’t as high as it normally would have been, but still a poor show from Channel 4, with the overall winner Sarah receiving seven times less tweets than last year’s winner, Candice.

Overall result: BBC WIN

While viewing figures may have been encouraging for Channel 4 bosses, the move has undoubtedly had a huge effect on online interest and sentiment around the show. People are generally tweeting and engaging much less with the show than when it was on the BBC, and old hand Paul seems to have really taken a hit to his popularity for staying on board. However, new additions Sandi and Noel really do seem to have been received well, so it’s not all bad news for Bake Off bosses.

How do you think the Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 went? Do you miss the days of the BBC? Let us know on Twitter @searchlabs