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April 8, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:08am

UK broadcasters reaching record audiences during coronavirus crisis

By Freddy Mayhew

UK broadcasters reached record audience figures in March as viewers tuned in for the latest updates on the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Not only have TV audiences grown during the lockdown, but broadcasters’ digital content, published on apps and online, has also broken records.


The BBC is reaching an audience of more than 20m a week across its evening news bulletins at 6pm and 10pm.

The Queen’s broadcast on Sunday 5 April was watched by over 14m people on BBC One and the BBC News Channel.

BBC Breakfast and the BBC News at One continue to see “significantly above-average audiences”, with more people also watching on iPlayer.

The BBC World Service is reaching 163m people in foreign languages.

ITV News

The ITV Evening News bulletin at 6.30pm reached an average audience of 4.2m a night in March, up by nearly a fifth year-on-year. Its audience on the weekend is up by 147 per cent.

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The ITV lunchtime news audience was up by 63 per cent year-on-year to 1.3m in March, and the ITV News at Ten was up by nearly a third year-on-year to 2.35m.

Channel 4 News

Channel 4 News reached 14.7m people in March, three times higher than the same period last year.

It has also seen the proportion of 16 to 14-year-olds it is reaching increase, with 2.2m watching in March compared to 1.3m over the same period last year.

The audience for the 7pm weekday news hour is up by nearly a fifth year-on-year overall, and up by 44 per cent among 16 to 34-year-olds.

The broadcaster made the decision last month to extend its Monday and Thursday bulletins to 90 mins throughout the pandemic.

Sky News

Sky News has been reaching an average TV audience of 4.2m a day, or 10.2m a week, for the past three weeks, equal to an audience share of 2.1 per cent in all UK homes.

Its weekly reach had doubled by the end of March, with audiences tripling on average.

March was a record breaking month for Sky News with more than 16m tuning in on TV, peaking at 5.4m on 23 March – the best audiences for the channel since August 2011.


The BBC News website reached a peak of 84m UK unique browsers in a single week during the outbreak. recorded its biggest ever audience in March, with 179m unique browsers, up 84 per cent year-on-year.

Its most popular coronavirus explainer has been watched more than 50m times.

The BBC said its total social media reach is 143m and it is reaching an audience of 100m on Youtube.

BBC Sounds is getting record figures of 3.5m weekly users, driven by live listening for both talk radio and music.

Sky’s news app and website had nearly 80m combined users, double its average, and has averaged more than 7.5m users a day since 16 March.

Stuart Ramsay’s report from a hospital in Italy during the Covid-19 lockdown broke digital records for video views and is now Sky News’ most-read article.

Sky’s podcasts had a record 3.7m monthly listens and growing.

The Sky News Youtube channel had its best ever month in March, with 131m video views by nearly 50m people. Its Snapchat had a record 23.4m users.

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