BBC research has revealed that the total number of requests for downloads and streams of BBC shows through iPlayer reached 17.2 million in March.

Compared to 11.2 million in January and 14 million in February, this represents a growth of approximately 25 per cent month-on-month, and contributes to the total of over 42 million shows accessed on-demand since the BBC iPlayer Christmas marketing launch.

Average weekly users of BBC iPlayer reached 1.1 million in March, up from January's average of 750,000 users.

The average daily number of requests to download or stream programs via BBC iPlayer easily broke through the half a million barrier in March, registering 550,000+ daily requests to stream or download, growing from an average of 360,000+ requests in January.

The first episode of the current series of The Apprentice (BBC One) is the most streamed BBC program on BBC iPlayer in its first three months, while Louis Theroux: Behind Bars (BBC Two), in which the celebrated documentary-maker investigates America's penal system, is the second most streamed program.

"BBC iPlayer continues to show significant growth and we are delighted that audiences are responding to it so positively," said Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of Future Media and Technology.

"Its initial performance proves the case not only for BBC iPlayer, but for all video-on-demand services over the internet, and benefits both our audiences and the industry as a whole.