BBC’s international audience soars to record high of 426m

June 18, 2019

UK broadcaster, the BBC, said its World Service English and BBC World News TV output have both reach all-time record highs.

More people around the world are tuning into the BBC than ever before, reaching a new high of 426m a week – an increase of 50m (13%) over the year, according to new figures released today.

The Global Audience Measure (GAM) shows BBC News has an audience of 394m globally, a rise of 47m. The BBC World Service in English, and 42 languages, account for 319m of that figure – with an increase of 41m.

BBC World Service in English and the BBC World News TV channel have both achieved all-time record audiences of 97m and 101m respectively. 

BBC World Service’s 42 language services have climbed to 259m. BBC Global News, the commercial subsidiary of BBC News which operates the BBC World News channel and bbc.com, makes up most of the remainder and has seen increases across TV and digital of 6m, to 121m – another record high.

Overall, BBC News has seen increases of 23m for TV (to 214m), 12m for audio (to 178m) and 18m for online (to 95m).

Impartial news drive 

“Every day our teams do an amazing job bringing independent, impartial news to audiences around the world, and today we can see just how much the BBC is valued”, said BBC Director-General Tony Hall. 

“Thanks to Government investment we’ve been able to launch the biggest expansion of the World Service since the Second World War, and this shows how much the BBC can do for the UK.”

Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, said: “The BBC is on track to reach its audience target of 500m weekly, and has posted all-time record audiences for both World Service Radio and BBC World News. 

“But most importantly we’re continuing to produce groundbreaking journalism that is attracting growing audiences, and making huge impact. 

“From investigative journalism like Africa Eye to our work countering fake news and disinformation, the BBC is showing why it remains the world’s most trusted source of news.”

Three countries – India, Kenya and the USA – have seen the most impressive gains since 2018.

India, where BBC News now operates in nine languages, has seen a rise of 20m to 50m to become the top overseas market for BBC News.

The USA becomes the third largest market overall with 38m, up 5m. 

The audience in Kenya has increased from 6m to 15m in the last year reaching 50% of the population. 

In Afghanistan, the BBC reaches 59% of the population. 

BBC News websites (World Service and bbc.com) have increased their combined reach by 6m to 51m globally, bucking wider trends for news sites.

The top 10 countries by BBC News audience are:

  • India 50m
  • Nigeria 41m
  • USA 38m
  • Kenya 15m
  • Afghanistan 12m
  • Bangladesh 12m
  • Egypt 11m
  • Iran 11m
  • Tanzania 10m
  • Pakistan 9m

Syndication of BBC content via partner television and radio stations around the world, and distribution via digital platforms like YouTube and Facebook, now add up to over 60% of audience reach.

Audio continues to be a major platform for the World Service, rising by 12.9m to 173m listeners worldwide. On all platforms, 30 percent of the audience is aged between 15-24 years.

Over the past two years new BBC News bureaux were opened in India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Korea, and 12 new language services were launched as part the largest expansion of the BBC World Service since the 1940s, funded by the UK government. 

The expansion has taken place against a background of rapid growth of rival international news services from Russia, China and the Middle East, the BBC said.