BBC on track to reach half a billion people globally ahead of its centenary in 2022

In 2020/21, the BBC achieved record figures with an average audience of 489 million adults every week.

Published: 10:00 am, 24 November 2021
Updated: 5:48 pm, 26 November 2021
An infographic shows how the BBC reaches a global audience. BBC reaches 489 million worldwide, up 20 million on 2020. BBC News reaches 456 million worldwide, up 18 million on 2020, BBC News World Service reaches 364 million worldwide, up 13 million on 2020, BBC World News and bbc.com reaches 139 million, up 2 million on 2020. And BBC Media Action reaches 23 million people worldwide, up 5 million on 2020.
“I am delighted that the BBC now informs, educates and entertains more people around the world than ever before. Our global reach continues to grow and we are well on target to hit half a billion people by our 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. It also highlights the important role we play for Britain on the global stage in carrying the UK’s voice, democratic values and influence.”
— Tim Davie, BBC Director-General

The BBC has achieved the highest ever global audience, according to the Global Audience Measure (GAM) published today, which records the total weekly number of adults accessing the BBC around the world. 

In 2020/21, the BBC achieved record figures with an average audience of 489 million* adults every week, an increase of over twenty million (+20 million) from the previous year.

This brings the BBC’s global audience close to the 500 million people target for 2022, which the BBC is on track to exceed in its 100th anniversary year. The BBC’s audience has more than doubled in the last ten years.

BBC’s international news services also reached record levels with 456 million adults using them each week (an increase of 18m). This includes audiences for World Service languages, World Service English, World News TV, BBC.com and BBC Media Action. 

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, says: “I am delighted that the BBC now informs, educates and entertains more people around the world than ever before. Our global reach continues to grow and we are well on target to hit half a billion people by our 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. It also highlights the important role we play for Britain on the global stage in carrying the UK’s voice, democratic values and influence.”

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and Director of BBC World Service, says: “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.”

The BBC World Service, which includes language services and World Service English, has continued to be a key growth driver, and still accounts for the largest share of BBC’s global reach. Weekly audience reach for the World Service now stands at 364 million, and is up 13 million from 2019/20.

Ongoing government investment in the World Service - in particular to boost digital, tackle disinformation and reach new audiences in India, Africa and the Middle East – has enabled BBC News to play a critical role in helping people across the globe safely navigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

Audiences turning to the BBC during the Covid-19 pandemic have led to an increased demand for trusted news online. This has positively affected digital reach and the growth of the BBC’s owned sites, such as World Service languages sites and BBC.com.

This year’s global performance was driven by the following factors:

  • World Service languages growth:  this year, the languages division drove the largest share of total BBC growth, up 20 million (+7%).  The language services now reach 313 million adults weekly.
  • Continued rise of digital: digital growth continues apace for BBC News outside the UK. Reach on all digital platforms is up by 23% to 186 million adults reached in the average week. 
  • Impressive performance of newer language services: these have seen rapid digital growth. The five strongest performing of the new language services are: Pidgin (+332%); Igbo (+204%); Yoruba (+94%); Gujarati (+78%) and Punjabi (+75%). As a result, 39% of World Service weekly reach now comes from digital platforms (41% for all BBC News).
  • BBC.com saw a rise of 8 million since 2020 and now has a reach of 40 million adults. Coverage of the US elections and the aftermath contributed faster growth for BBC.com than in previous years
  • BBC Studios’ international channels reached 65 million adults, an increase of 16 million.
  • BBC Media Action, the BBC's international charity that works with media and communication for democracy and development – saw an increase in their contribution to GAM of 5 million, to 23 million.

The top 10 countries by BBC News audience are:

India

65m

United States of America

48m

Nigeria

34m

Kenya

15m

Tanzania

14m

Iran

13m

Bangladesh

12m

Afghanistan

12m

Brazil

11m

Pakistan

8m

Notes to editors

  • * The 489 million total figure includes unique audiences to BBC Studios content in addition to the entire BBC News international portfolio
  • GAM is an annual update of how many adults are consuming the BBC weekly for all services in all countries across all platforms (television, radio, website and social media). Key to this is de-duplication i.e. ensuring that an adult who consumes multiple BBC services or platforms or on multiple devices is only counted once in the top-level totals, which means those totals are often not the sums of their constituent parts.

PS