Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Record audience for BBC international news services

The BBC attracts a record weekly global audience of 241 million people to its international news services such as BBC World Service and the BBC World News television channel, according to independent surveys. This is up three million on last year’s overall audience estimate.

However, the multimedia BBC World Service lost 20 million shortwave radio listeners during the year, reflecting the increasing global decline of the medium. But during the year BBC World Service attracted around nine million new viewers to its television, online and mobile services; in addition to new listeners to BBC radio programmes through local FM and mediuwave radio partner stations in a number of countries.

BBC Global News Director, Peter Horrocks, said: “BBC Global News’s record audience demonstrates that people come to us for journalism that is challenging and asks difficult questions, yet respects different points of view and actively encourages debate. The figures also show the success of our multimedia strategy and investments for global audiences. But the continued dramatic decline in shortwave listening shows that those audiences are rapidly changing the way they access international news. Unless BBC World Service can accelerate its response to those changes, it will face a rapid deterioration of its impact as other technologies become more prominent in international media markets.”

BBC World Service

BBC World Service drew an overall weekly multimedia audience of 180 million across television, radio, online and mobiles. This is eight million down on last year. The audience losses were mainly due to a sharp overall decline in short wave radio listening during the year. Radio audience losses were particularly dramatic in Bangladesh (-7 million), India (-8.2m), and Nigeria (-2.9 m). However, there were significant radio audience gains in Tanzania (+1.4m), and the US (+ 600,000), mainly through BBC programmes being used on local FM and mediumwave radio partner stations.

The multimedia BBC Arabic service attracted an audience of 22 million a week, including 12 million watching BBC Arabic television. The BBC Persian multimedia news and information service was hampered by the jamming of its newly launched TV satellite service and the continued blocking of its online service by the Iranian authorities. However, in a hostile environment for research, the independent surveys indicated audiences of 3.4 million, including 3.1 million watching BBC Persian television in Iran. Together the channels contributed a 72% increase in the estimated audience of BBC World Service’s non-English television services.

BBC World Service continued to have strong impact in Afghanistan, where BBC audiences are 10 million; and in Iraq where the BBC reaches 4.5 million people each week. In Burma, the BBC now reaches 8.5 million listeners, up 1.4 million on the last survey.

BBC’s commercial international news services

BBC World News and – the BBC commercial international television and online news services – attracted a combined global audience of 83 million.

BBC World News has a weekly audience of 71 million. The news, weather and sport sections of the BBC’s international commercial site,, increased to more than 17.2 million unique users every week. It also attracted more than 1.1million unique users in February 2010 accessing mobile news, weather and sport content from BBC Global News every week. By April, this had increased to 1.5 million unique users every week. There has been an increase of 120% in page impressions in the last year. Mobile traffic to news pages alone on the mobile site increased tenfold.
(Source: BBC World Service Publicity/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)