Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Ofcom's 3rd Annual Report on the BBC is, as in previous years, a masterly piece of carping condescension. The BBC is doing brilliantly on most fronts, but, if only they'd listen to and engage with Ofcom, they could do so much better. 

There are, of course, some entertaining snippets and stats.  Here's a brief selection. 

BBC Scotland's weekday flagship one-hour bulletin, The Nine, averaged a 15,890 audience and 0.84% share in the year to March 2020, while Reporting Scotland on BBC One Scotland averaged 403,014 and a 28% share. BARB data indicates that the average audience among 16-34 year-olds for The Nine is very low (less than 1,000 16-34s per episode), much lower than for Reporting Scotland (15,000 16-34s per episode). 

We have concerns that currently the BBC does not report transparently on how well BBC Sounds is
delivering to audiences. The BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts referred to the number of signed-in
accounts (3.6 million), that this was above target for all audiences, and that it had met its target for
younger audiences. However, as it did not report on what the targets were, it is difficult to assess
how well BBC Sounds is delivering compared to what the BBC had planned. We note that in the
BBC’s 2020/21 Annual Plan the BBC does include a target of 3.5 – 4 million weekly signed-in

Our BBC Performance Tracker indicates 7% of 16-34 year-olds claim to listen to BBC Sounds. In contrast, Spotify reaches over half of 15-34 year-olds, further highlighting the challenge the BBC faces in this market.

To help us with our own consideration of BBC Sounds, we are commissioning a
survey to understand where BBC Sounds fits in the wider audio landscape, including audience
awareness, consumption and attitudes. We will use this as part of our performance assessment of
BBC Sounds in next year’s annual report. 

There is limited reporting in the BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts on how well BBC Three
is delivering for audiences. We know from third-party research that 5% of 15-34s watched it each week
in the first quarter of 2020, down from 7% in 2019.

National commercial radio services have increased their listeners aged 15-24 by 10% over the past
three years, while the BBC’s network radio services have lost 12% of their 15-24-year-old listeners. 

In 2019, the BBC recorded its highest level of spend for news and current affairs since 2010,
combining network and nations’ and regions’ programme spend.

We continue to find the BBC’s output to be distinctive overall. 


  1. Over-55s growing less satisfied with the BBC, Ofcom says

  2. I am over 34 and watch "The Nine" regularly


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