Measuring quality and reach at the BBC

Head of Audiences

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"Audiences are at the heart of everything we do" is an important phrase at the BBC. It appears on the back of every member of staff's BBC ID card. And understanding how and where those audiences are choosing to consume the BBC, and what they think of us, our programmes and services, is always of huge importance, and interest, to everyone at the BBC.

In December 2010 the BBC published its new strategy Putting Quality First and in this new strategy, the BBC Trust pledged to set new standards of openness and transparency for the BBC, so that the public and the market understands how the corporation spends its money, how it is performing and what it plans to do next.

As part of this initiative, we plan to publish a wide range of performance information on a more consistent basis so that licence fee-payers can understand better how the BBC performs against some of its key objectives.

This document (PDF) is the first step in that process and shows how the BBC and its services perform in terms of quality (to what extent people enjoy and appreciate BBC programmes) and reach (how many people consume BBC channels and services and for how long) on all of our main media platforms.

As you will learn from some of the data in this report, it's encouraging to see that despite the plethora of media choices available to the UK audience, 97 per cent of the UK population choose to spend an average of over 19 hours a week consuming BBC services across TV, radio and online. And perceptions of the BBC's quality in this latest period have hit some of their highest levels in recent years. Whilst this is certainly good news for us, it sets very high expectations for the new strategy as the BBC must continue to provide the high quality and distinctive programmes that the audience expect and say they enjoy.

This sort of audience information is extremely important to the BBC and is continually tracked and reported, from programmes and channels to views of the Corporation as a whole. These metrics are reviewed by BBC managers and the BBC Trust continually and have a big influence on decision making throughout the BBC.

This is the first time we have published this breadth of information on the BBC website and, following the launch of the Annual Report and Accounts in July 2011, we intend to publish this sort of information for every calendar quarter. The next release of data is planned for September 2011 and will cover the period from April to June 2011.

Alongside this performance data we also intend to publish some insights from specially-commissioned research projects so that licence fee-payers can see examples of how the BBC uses audience feedback to help develop and create programmes and content for audiences.

James Holden is Head of Audiences at the BBC

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