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BBC’s global news audience records 265 mn people a week

MUMBAI: New figures released show that UK pubcaster the BBC’s global audience has increased to a record-breaking 265 million people a week. The figures, for 2013/14 represent an increase of nine million people on the previous year.

The Global Audience Estimate (GAE) measures the combined reach of the BBC’s international services – BBC World Service, BBC World News, bbc.com/news and BBC Media Action – across the world.

BBC World News TV shows an increase of 5 million viewers, taking its weekly audience to 76 million.

The Indian audience has grown, and shows signs of recovering from the last few years of decline. This comes thanks to investments in digital and TV for the Hindi Service, including the launch of the Global India programme on TV – which pulls in six million weekly viewers – and an increase in World News viewers. These increases more than offset the loss of shortwave listeners to the Hindi Service.

Russia has shown the biggest growth for a single market, with the audience more than doubling to 6.9 million weekly as people turn to the BBC for trustworthy and impartial news. The BBC’s Ukrainian Service also reflects this trend with its audience more than trebling to over 600,000 over the last year.

BBC digital news services have continued to grow, with an 8 million, or 21 per cent, year-on-year increase, bringing the digital audience to 46 million.

BBC World Service Group director Peter Horrocks said, “Today’s figures show the most successful year ever for the BBC’s global news services. The BBC plays a vital role in troubled times. We know that people around the world turn to the BBC when other impartial information is in short supply, and this is borne out by the sharp increase in audiences in Russia and Ukraine.

“Investment in TV bulletins and responsive mobile services for the World Service is bearing fruit. Radio will be a World Service mainstay for years to come, but as these figures testify, the way people access news is changing and we must continue to innovate if we are to flourish in the years ahead.”

Other findings of the Global Audience Estimate include:

  • The weekly audience for GN Ltd – which comprises BBC World News and bbc.com/news – has increased to 95.5 million from 88 million last year: a rise of 8 per cent
  • The audience for the BBC World Service has remained broadly stable at 191.4 million (slightly down from 192.2 million last year), with the introduction of new TV language bulletins boosting the World Service’s television audience
  • Increases in television and digital audiences are offsetting the decline (mainly on shortwave and medium wave) in radio listening. Radio audiences have dropped by 17 million since last year, although radio still remains the biggest platform overall at 128 million listeners, with TV viewers at 126 million.
  • The launch of responsive design (now available for all World Service languages) and the move to ‘mobile-first’ has contributed to mobile growth. A third of all weekly visitors to World Service websites come via mobile
  • For the first time, a nationally representative media survey was conducted in Yemen, showing an audience of 3.8 million weekly viewers for BBC Arabic TV in that country
  • The average age of the audience for the BBC’s global news services is 32

Independent research from Newswhip has shown that the BBC is by far the world’s most retweeted news brand.

The BBC is currently exploring innovative new ways of measuring its audience impact around the world to reflect changing audience behaviours.