The outgoing director-general of the BBC Tony Hall has said the UK must “unleash the full global potential of the BBC” as the details of a new all-time record global audience was announced.
The BBC’s global reach increased by 11% year on year in 2020 to 468.2m people a week – the highest number ever.
BBC News accounts for 438.4m of the total with an annual increase of 13%. Digital platforms are key to the success, with an increase of 53% in BBC News users. A total of 151m users now access BBC News digitally according the annual Global Audience Measure (GAM) which measures how many individuals the BBC reached weekly with its news and entertainment content in the year 2019/20.
Tony Hall said: “We are without question one of Britain’s strongest and best-known brands, synonymous with quality and accuracy worldwide. Our international news services rank first for trust and reliability and the World Service remains a beacon of democratic values. Independent research shows that there is an exceptionally high correlation between places where people are aware of the BBC and places where people think positively about the UK. More than that, the BBC helps UK trade. This has perhaps never been more important. The UK will forge a new relationship with the world in the decade ahead, built on an ambitious vision of ‘Global Britain’. Success will mean drawing on all our considerable international assets, and that means unleashing the full global potential of the BBC.”
In late March 2020, as the Covid 19 virus spread and trusted sources of information were in demand, BBC News recorded the highest reach of any international media organisation in the world with 310m people accessing coverage across 42 languages.
BBC global content is increasingly popular on global platforms like YouTube with a 129% increase in audiences to 47m a week – overtaking Facebook with a 31% increase to 43m. Twitter reach has doubled to 6m and Instagram also reaches 6m weekly.
Other highlights of the 2020 Global Audience Measure:
• BBC World News channel made significant gains to reach 112m – with growth in the Americas at 50%.
• BBC World Service Languages up 13% to 292.1m with a big uptick in digital engagement among audiences aged 15-24 who now make up a third of the total. BBC News Hindi is now the second most popular service with 25m – behind Arabic with 42m (+67%). BBC Chinese saw an increase of 141%, Russian is up 32% and BBC Mundo 40%. Other big percentage increases include Serbian (+327%), Yoruba (+166%) and Afaan Oromo (+143%).
• BBC Studios increased reach by 5.8m to 49.1m up 13%.
• BBC World Service English audiences up by 8% to 97m. The Global News Podcast remains the BBC’s most popular with audiences approaching 1m a week. Italy contributed 1.4m new listeners on DAB radio.
• BBC Media Action – the BBC’s international charity that helps to strengthen governance, improve people’s health and humanitarian response – saw an increase in audience of 4m to 18m.
New content funded by the UK government’s ‘World 2020’ initiative attracted new audiences with Sport Africa – including extensive EPL coverage, Africa Eye with ground-breaking investigative journalism and What’s New for young African audiences performing particularly well.
The top 10 countries by BBC News audience are:
United States 49,500,000
The Global Audience Measure is an annual update of how many people are consuming the BBC weekly for all services in all countries across all platforms (television, radio, website and social media).