BBC World Service: Global audience up, shortwave listeners in “steep decline”

(Source: The BBC Media Centre)

BBC’S Global audience rises to 376m

The BBC is reaching a record weekly audience of 376m people, new figures published today reveal.

The figures – the Global Audience Measure (GAM) – show how many adults the BBC reached weekly with its news and entertainment content in the year 2017/18.

The BBC World Service, which has just undertaken its biggest expansion since the 1940s, has seen its audience increase by 10m, to 279m.
The total global news audience has risen by a million, to 347m.

The GAM shows the way people access their news is continuing to change around the world. With the increased availability of cheap smartphones around the world, audiences are continuing to switch to digital platforms for news. Overall, online news website audiences have grown by four million, with social media audiences up by nine million.

The English language international website,, continues to perform well even in competitive markets like the USA, adding two million weekly users this year.

More people listen directly to World Service English via the internet than by any other method – a total of 27m. And World Service English podcasts now reach one million people every week.

However, shortwave radio listening continues its steep decline, with shortwave audiences virtually disappearing in Pakistan, and down substantially in Nigeria.

Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says: “This has been an exciting year for the BBC World Service, with the launch of 12 new services, new programming, and the opening of new and expanded bureaux across the world, so it is great to see international audiences continuing to turn to the BBC for independent and impartial news.

The figures highlight not only the successes of our global news operation, but the challenges that lie ahead for us. We still need to grow the share of women engaging with our news services globally, and we need to ensure we have the right services to continue to attract young audiences.

At a time when Britain is forging a new relationship with nations around the world, the BBC’s global news services are more important than ever.”

The figures also show:

  • More than a quarter of the BBC World Service’s audience is aged between 15-24 years old.
  • In Afghanistan, more than 60% of the adult population consumes BBC News; in Nigeria the figure is just under 40%
  • The top ten markets for the BBC’s international news services are Nigeria (41m), USA (33m), India (30m), Bangladesh (16m), Egypt (16m), Iran (13m), Afghanistan (12m), Tanzania (10m), Pakistan (9m) and Indonesia (8m).
  • More people are consuming more than one BBC service, or using more than one platform to access BBC News; 24m people consume the World Service in English as well as other languages.

Notes to Editors
The Global Audience Measure is an annual update of how many people 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 a person who consumes multiple BBC services or platforms or on multiple devices is not counted many times in the top level totals.

The total figure includes audiences for all BBC News services outside the UK and branded entertainment content on TV, BBC websites and social media pages for BBC Studios.


Spread the radio love

8 thoughts on “BBC World Service: Global audience up, shortwave listeners in “steep decline”

  1. adi

    All I can say that here in Israel I can no longer hear BBC english WS at all on SW. I tried numerous times with my SRW-710 and the D-808 and No BBCWS for me.

  2. Jake Brodsky

    This is in many ways a self-fulfilling prophecy. They ceased short-wave broadcasts to many parts of the world and then they note that shortwave listeners are fewer and fewer.

    What stunningly perceptive intellect!

    As a side note, there is another report out on
    that indicates the short-wave spectrum is being polluted by many unintentional radiators that nobody even bothers to track down or stop. Even the MW AM broadcast band is being trashed by this noise and nobody sees fit to do much about it.

    So, yes, the noise is up, the broadcasters are shutting down and the listeners are going elsewhere. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    1. Laurence N.

      No, that’s not what it says. They are not referring to total shortwave listeners, which could be decreasing as a result of their shutting down services. They mentioned specific areas, which still have transmitters aimed at them. Fewer people are using them. Of course, this could be used to justify shutting some more down, but that’s not the cause of what they’re talking about this time.

    2. RonF

      > “… that indicates the short-wave spectrum is being polluted by many unintentional radiators that nobody even bothers to track down or stop.”

      Well, no surprises there. I won’t be able to read the paper until I get back from hols (for some reason the IEEE is about the only publisher I can’t access by VPNing into work), but take a look at the EU/UK/US/AU EMI specs – high or non-existent EMI thresholds for radiated and conducted emissions from 0-30MHz. If you’re not going to measure below 30MHz – or if you set the thresholds so high you could practically pass a spark-gap transmitter – then you’re going to turn the whole place into an RF sewer…

      (And then you’ve got the countries like my own, which barely even police the minimal regs & standards unless an in-country commercial user complains, and allow any old junk into the country as long as someone somewhere along the chain can print up a fake compliance test certificate from anywhere…)

    3. Tom Reitzel

      The biggest surprise is that ANYONE actually pays attention to the BBC on ANY platform. If ANYONE was meddling in the electoral process in the USA in 2016, it was the globalist, pro-Hillary propaganda from the BBC. The BBC like RT, CAIR, SPLC, and other such organizations operating in the USA should be registered as foreign agents. Shortwave is declining primarily because the subjects of such governmental propaganda have tired of it and now have other more objective sources of information at their disposal. IF objective and concise content is eventually delivered digitally (DRM) on shortwave, the medium will definitely recover. I continue to be optimistic for the shortwave bands even though governments are leaving it… it’s about time for both actions, departing governments and recovery via commercial DRM.

      1. Tom Reitzel

        It’ll be interesting to see how long the victims of the BBC’s propaganda in their current “Top Ten” markets are willing to suffer. Statistics don’t mean much without historical context. Remember the absurdly WRONG presidential polls in 2016 which were constantly paraded by the BBC? I’d strongly recommend questioning ANY numbers posted by the BBC. What’s the source of those allegedly NEW converts? Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

    4. Keith Perron

      The rapid decline of shortwave listening to the BBC had very little to do with reducing hours. They hours were reduced because fewer people were listening. New platforms came along. Shortwave as a platform stated to die in the mid 90s. And since that time there are apps, domestic relays and content delivery though social media platforms.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.