BBC scores with Indian viewers during Iraq conflict

MUMBAI: With the ongoing Iraq conflict gaining momentum viewership for news channels have received a boost. While the long term viewership impact remains to be seen BBC World claims to be making significant strides in the country.



TAM research indicates that BBC World's audience reach went up to 10 million viewers in one three-day period (20-22 March 2003) more than double the usual number. During this period, the channel's market-share equalled that of CNN and CNBC put together among up-market people and all individuals in terms of number of viewers who tuned-in to the channel since the outbreak of the Iraq crisis.

The Peoplemeter data showed an overall increase in news viewing and BBC World in particular showed a jump of 108 per cent in reach and 85 per cent increase in time-spent on the channel among upmarket people. Additional viewers turned to BBC World with the data showing that among upmarket people 56 per cent of CNN viewers watched BBC World and 31 per cent of BBC World viewers watched CNN.

BBC World's ad sales head Seema Mohapatra said," These research figures reflect that a vast number of discerning viewers are watching BBC World for a broader perspective of global issues. It is heartening to know that it is not just our core audiences, but additional viewers who turn to the channel time and again for its factual and unbiased reporting."

The channel has been doing well in other countries also like Australia. BBC World is now available in 1.5 million homes across all platforms (Austar, Optus and FOXTEL). The latest research by AC Neilsen (23-29 March) shows that audience share has increased by 750 per cent in just two weeks. Audience reach is also at record levels with research showing it is 44 per cent higher than the previous record (week of 9/11) and represents the fastest growth rate for any channel reported by AC Neilsen.

Singapore-based deputy director Airtime Sales for BBC World Sunita Rajan said, "BBC World already does very well in attracting audiences with an AB profile from a large part of pay-tv viewership but this latest data demonstrates that substantially more viewers are turning to BBC World for its balanced and impartial reporting of unfolding events in the Gulf."

Audience research from the Asia-Pacific region over the past six months supports this upward trend. The latest International Air Travellers Survey (IATS) Asia-Pacific 2002 confirmed that BBC World is the fastest growing international news channel in the region (the study measures the viewership of international television channels and readership of international publications among international air travellers). The sixth Pan Asia Cross Media Survey (PAX) also found that unlike other news channels, BBC World held onto the audience it gained in 2001 as well as showing annual growth in some of Asia's biggest urban centres. BBC World's monthly audience grew by fourteen percent (14 per cent) year-on-year to 993,000 - the fastest growth for any of the top ten international channels.

Terrestrial broadcasters around the world, including NHK (Japan), ATV (Hong Kong) and SABC (South Africa) have signed agreements to broadcast BBC World's breaking news thereby extending the channel's reach even further. A potential 68 million free-to-air terrestrial households now have access to the channel's additional continuous news output, on top of the channel's ordinary distribution of 254 million households globally. Global peoplemeter data for the same period indicates enormous growth in audiences elsewhere with India, South Africa and the USA all reporting three and four times more BBC World viewers than usual.

In the US, PBS stations carrying BBC World News bulletins reach over 80 per cent of homes and in Dallas viewing to Channel 2, which has been showing BBC World coverage virtually full-time, is recording four times the usual station level of viewers.

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