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Olympic opener tops iPlayer as mobile viewing skyrockets

36.5 billion minutes of programming were transmitted through iPlayer, the BBC says.

iPlayer viewer numbers were higher than ever in 2012, the BBC boasts, with a huge boost in traffic coming from smart phone and tablet owners.

The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony was the most-viewed programme last year, pulling in a whopping 3.3 million pairs of eyeballs. Smug car-a-thon Top Gear was a close second with 2.8 million views, while angular national treasure Benedict Cumberbatch attracted 2.5 million streams with Sherlock.

Divulging the stats behind its streaming service, the Beeb says it witnessed a 177 per cent jump in the number of viewers using smart phones and tablets -- a quarter of iPlayer's total streams.

36.5 billion minutes of programming were transmitted through iPlayer, the BBC says, with a total of 2.32 billion TV and radio programme requests. 

iPlayer recently added the ability to download programmes to your mobile gadget for offline viewing -- if you're using an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that is. The experiment seems to have worked, as 10.8 million shows were downloaded to Apple's shiny devices following the launch of downloadable programmes in September.

That's tooth-grinding news for Android fans, who have been waiting not-so-patiently for the offline-viewing feature to arrive on Google's platform. Last year I spoke to iPlayer big cheese Daniel Danker, who cited fragmentation -- the issue that there are too many screen sizes, pixel resolutions and processor types to make Android development easy -- as one reason fans had been left waiting.

Do you use iPlayer on your smart phone? How should the BBC improve the service? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.