Extensive audience growth reflects global need for reliable and credible information
Washington, D.C. — The measured weekly audience for U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) programming grew by 11 percent to reach an unprecedented 394 million people in fiscal year 2021, according to the agency’s Performance and Accountability Report recently submitted to Congress.
The audience grew by 40 million adults, despite significant operational challenges for the agency in FY 2021, from leadership transition to pandemic limitations.
“The continued global effects of COVID-19, political turmoil and social unrest in many of our broadcasting areas, and increasingly disrupted media environments have driven people to seek out reliable and credible information so they can make informed decisions about their lives,” said USAGM Acting CEO Kelu Chao. “It’s clear from the research that more and more people are turning to our networks for information they can trust.”
USAGM continued to reach large audiences in countries of importance to U.S. national security and foreign affairs interests, including Russia (7.9 million), China (65.4 million), and Iran (12.2 million). Audience growth also occurred in several key markets – including Turkey (up 287 percent since the agency’s last survey there), Burma (up 132 percent since the last survey), and Vietnam (up 241 percent since the last survey) – as well as from previously unsurveyed markets, including India (29.4 million) and the Philippines (5.0 million).
Research shows audience growth across all platforms, particularly 208 million people watching USAGM content on television and 142 million listening on radio each week. Audiences consuming USAGM-sponsored content on digital platforms grew 35 percent to reach 184 million.
USAGM’s networks — the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks — deliver news and programming via radio, television, and internet in 62 languages.
A sixth USAGM entity, the Open Technology Fund, provides tools to help audiences overcome internet restrictions and surveillance. In FY 2021, these tools saw a 177 percent increase in weekly unique users, 121 percent increase in weekly visits, and 44 percent increase in total proxy traffic over the previous year.
Research conducted to estimate the agency’s global audience adheres to standards developed by the Conference of International Broadcasters’ Audience Research Service and reports the number of unique individuals who access USAGM content, or what is referred to as the unduplicated audience. This global audience estimate is just one element in USAGM’s annual performance report. The agency also measures impacts based on quantitative and qualitative data on a wide range of factors, including program quality and credibility, engagement with content, and audience understanding of current events.
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