WASHINGTON — The BBG’s networks draw a record-high audience of 215 million people each week, according to a new report released today. This includes noteworthy increases in competitive media markets, on television and online.
Growth in the television audience has been tremendous, with an increase of 14 million from 2013. This is in part due to a successful affiliate strategy, through which BBG partners with more than 2,300 media outlets worldwide. These partnerships bring the BBG more than half of its overall global audience.
“Large audience gains in countries of strategic importance to the United States, combined with our distribution strategy, underscore that we are accomplishing our mission and skillfully utilizing our resources across difficult media environments,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell.
Weekly audiences in Russia and Ukraine have doubled as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty expanded live coverage and introduced new programming in the region to counter Russian misinformation. Together, they reach one in five adults in Ukraine weekly.
VOA’s overall audience grew by seven million, to 171.6 million, due to large audience gains mainly in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Russia and Cambodia. Expanded television offerings on popular affiliate stations drove much of this increase in measured audiences.
RFE/RL’s overall audience expanded by more than five million, up to 23.3 million, a marked 30% increase from 2013. Notable audiences came from Iran, with the launch of Radio Farda’s popular morning program “Breakfast with News” as a television show.
In addition to weekly audience size, the BBG measures impact using quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal data on a wide range of factors, including program quality and trustworthiness, engagement with the news process, and audience understanding of current events. Examples of impact include:
- Radio/TV Martí launched Reporta Cuba, allowing citizen reporters to use mobile technology and digital media to provide eyewitness accounts of news directly from Cuba.
- Radio Free Asia has been at the forefront of breaking news from inside China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), garnering frequent media pickups from the New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post, and regional media in Asia.
- Alhurra and Radio Sawa provided the Middle East and North Africa an alternative and reliable news source in contrast to ISIL propaganda.
The BBG’s Internet anti-censorship program also expands audience reach and program impact, through deployment of circumvention tools and by facilitating access to closed markets.
To learn more about the BBG’s performance measures, the 2014 Performance and Accountability Report is available here, along with the BBG’s 2014 audience overview and explanation of research methodology.