BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

8pm summary stats

Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 15:02 UK time, Tuesday, 5 February 2008

It's been almost two months since we launched the new short news update on BBC One at 8pm.

BBC Ten O'Clock News logoI blogged about the aims of the summary at the time of launch in December - one of the key ones was to reach audiences who don't watch any BBC TV News output during the week.

I thought I'd share with you some of the audience figures we've had back from the first two weeks of the summary. 24.4 million people (or around 43% of the population) watched the summary in that fortnight.

As we thought it's not the sort of bulletin (like the Six or Ten O'Clock News) that viewers would make a special point of watching - it's something they'd catch just before or after EastEnders. Indeed 65% of the audience only watched one summary in a week.

BBC One 8pm summaryFor 1.7 million viewers the 8pm summary was the only BBC TV News they saw in that week with nearly 600,000 in the 16-34 year old bracket (again an audience we know is watching less and less TV news).

We always wanted to make sure that traditional BBC One viewers didn't switch off because of the summary and the figures seem to show that isn't happening.

From our own internal research, viewers like the mix of national and regional news - something our competitors like Five don't do with their updates. They thought the summary was “to the point” and “informative” and it appealed most to younger and more working class audiences.

It's also given us a chance to update BBC One viewers with stories that break between the end of the Six O'Clock News and the Ten O'Clock News - for example the death of Jeremy Beadle last week.



I see you quote phrases such as “to the point” and “informative” - were these unprompted descriptions or from a list provided by your researchers?

How many people said less kind things?

Also your phrasing is a bit unclear:

"They thought the summary was “to the point” and “informative” and it appealed most to younger and more working class audiences."

Are you saying viewers thought it "appealed most to younger and more working class audiences" or that figures showed it did?

The two are quite different and if it's the first it may not be the compliment you think!

  • 2.
  • At 04:43 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • DaveH wrote:

Let's have the truth shall we?

43% of the population happened to have the TV on BBC1 between the end of the 7.30 prog and the start of the 8pm prog. Given the popularity of several BBC 8pm progs and the fact that ITV ends Coronation Street about 7.55 on most evenbings, then viewers are just switching over.

Mr. Beadle was indeed unfortunate to die at 59 last week, but it was hardly major news and could have waited until 10 pm.

  • 3.
  • At 05:53 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Roger Carr wrote:

I suggest you stop congratulating yourselves.

It seems like a good time to make a cup of tea or a phone call to me. But, you know, I wasn't asked.

Do we really need patronising short news "bulletins" as frequently as this, just so you can say some younger people watched it, according to your statistics and who agreed with some of the suggested responses of your researchers. Perhaps, you plan to use such programmes as a reason why the 10 pm News can be cut in length at some point?

But, if it brings early notice the death of Jeremy Beadle (no disrespect, but a few hours will not have harmed anyone) I presume those with tabloid instincts in BBC 1 News will be happy.

And I doubt anyone said (even if prompted) that the local news element of it was "informative" or useful.

It seems that you have a very generous budget and you must spend it, at the expense of quality. Sending Huw Edwards to read the news from new York this week seems to be more of the same. You seem to consider that we are unable to tell what is important, unless the newsreader goes to (in this case) New York, does a vacuous two way to someone pointlessly standing outside or stands up to do "area sales manager training" PowerPoint.

Remarkably, the British people do have perfectly adequate attention spans to watch an intelligently presented news programme. Channel 4 can do, BBC2 can do it, so why can't BBC 1? Because you have to keep up with ITV?

  • 4.
  • At 06:04 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

I know eventually this is going to be flooded with comments of the BBC "dumbing down", but actually i really don't think its such a massive deal.

The 8pm News is of little concequence to me as I watch other BBC News programmes and Newsnight for a more extensive and quality news round-up. However, if there is an audience for this kind of bitesize thing, and it dosn't negatively effect the content or quality of other programmes then I really can't see the harm.

  • 5.
  • At 08:29 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Grant wrote:

Anyone who cannot manage to do without the news between 6.30 and 10.00 has plenty of options - radio, internet, news24. This new update is unnecessary, irritating and even more superficial than the normal diet.

  • 6.
  • At 10:28 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

As a 21 year old who saw the bulletin for the first time sat around with a group of people the same age waiting for Eastenders to begin - it was something of a different treat.

We all sat there in silence, catching up on the latest news, and it was so briefly done, that it was very interesting and informative - none of the long, rather boring bulletins.

Good show!

  • 7.
  • At 11:35 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:


Could you explain how you arrived at the viewing figures of 24.4 million please? What was the actual number per programme? If you did get 43% of the population watching that's great but I fear that's a misrepresentation of statistics. Cumulatively surely, but then it's not 43% of the population as you cannot know how many are repeat viewers rather than discreet viewers as your comment suggests. I hope I'm wrong, in which case I apologise and you should be garlanded, but if not that's not a good comment for a BBC News editor and smacks of spin, and bad spin at that.

Many thanks.

Patrick, of course Craig's playing with figures.

His done that clever BBC thing of adding up all the people who saw a bulletin, regardless of whether they actually tuned in to see it or were just waiting for EastEnders to start, across the week to produce that figure.

If anyone surveyed the number of people watching at 8 FOR the bulletin think you'd get a far smaller figure.

Concise summaries of key events are a real boon to viewers who do not have the time for the the in-depth news programmes. Time waits for no man: with so much to do we need clever, well-presented concise news to keep us abreast with the latest happenings. So heartiest congratulations to the BBC for this format with charming presenters...

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.