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November 24, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:47am

BBC’s international services reach record global audience of 489m people every week

By Charlotte Tobitt

International BBC News services now reach 456m people every week, the corporation said on Wednesday.

This is an increase of 18m, or 4%, from 2019/20. The figure covers audiences for World Service languages, World Service English, World News TV, and the international charity BBC Media Action.

Overall, when unique audiences to BBC Studios are included alongside the BBC News international portfolio, the corporation now reaches 489m people every week – also an increase of 4% in a year.

The figures exclude the BBC’s public service reach within the UK but do include any use of its international news services within the UK, for example UK traffic to the World Service’s language services.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said the corporation is “well on target” to reach half a billion people each week as it celebrates its centenary next year.

“The fact that our audience has more than doubled in the last decade shows how trusted and increasingly valued BBC services are right around the world,” Davie said.

“It also highlights the important role we play for Britain on the global stage in carrying the UK’s voice, democratic values and influence.”

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The figures were released in the BBC’s annual Global Audience Measure which is a de-duped measure of how many people consume the BBC each week across all platforms, including TV, radio, websites and social media.

BBC World Service, which includes language services and World Service English, accounts for the largest share of the BBC's global reach with a weekly reach of 364m, up 13m in a year. On their own, the language services grew by 7% to reach an audience of 313m.

The BBC said ongoing investment in the World Service from the UK Government, which is helping to boost digital, tackle disinformation and reach new audiences in India, Africa and the Middle East, helped it provide a critical service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has provided more than £370m for the BBC World Service since 2016 to supplement its licence fee income. In May this year it announced the Foreign Office was increasing the annual amount by £8m to £94.4m.

BBC News' reach on all digital platforms grew by 23% to 186m adults in the average week.

Spurred on by rapid growth in several new language services, such as Pidgin, Igbo and Yoruba, some 39% of World Service weekly reach now comes from digital platforms, rising to 41% for all BBC News.

International news website saw a rise of 8m to reach 40m adults each week. Its coverage of the US election and its aftermath was a major growth driver.

Liliane Landor, senior controller of BBC News International Services and director of BBC World Service, said: “Global audiences for BBC News have reached record levels and our reputation for providing trusted, impartial news and information is world class.

"We have seen how vital our output has been to audiences in moments of jeopardy, from the Covid-19 pandemic to elections and conflicts.

"The BBC has strengthened its position in markets of need such as Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where access to trusted impartial news is paramount. We will continue to provide strong first-class journalism across our platforms."

Picture: Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images

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