The BBG has released its weekly audience estimate for 2012. Combined, BBG broadcasters reach 175 million people each week with gains in Iran, Libya, and Ethiopia; losses in Indonesia…
BBG broadcasters reached an estimated 175 million people each week in 2012, down 12 million from the all time high of 187 million estimated in 2011.
As in every annual audience research estimate, there were ups and downs — often attributable to news cycles, market forces, or political events in a given country.
BBG audiences grew in Iran, where more than 10 million people each week watch or hear programming that originates from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Audiences were also larger in a newly open Libya, and Ethiopia — where the BBG increased transmission.
Most of the audience loss came in Indonesia, where weekly audiences fell more than 17 million, from 38 million to 21 million weekly. Indonesia has seen volatility in past audience estimates, with 2010 estimated at 25 million and 2009 estimated at 16 million. Thus the 2011 high of 38 million in Indonesia may have been a statistical spike.
Some, but not likely all of the loss may be attributable to a change in research methodology by Gallup, which won the BBG research contract this year. While the data continues to be reviewed, theories range from Gallup being more effective in reaching rural populations to weighting the data differently than the previous research contractor. For example, if there were better rural data samples than in the past, VOA Indonesia would likely see a decline since many of its largest TV and radio affiliates serve urban areas.
BBG broadcasters also saw declines in Egypt, Nigeria, and Burma — markets that are newly open or increasingly competitive.
On the positive side, BBG broadcasters reach 75% of the adult population in Afghanistan, 75% in the Somaliland and Puntland regions of Somalia, 67% in Iraq, 30% in Libya, and 27% in the FATA in Pakistan.
In terms of audience breakdown by platform, 95 million people listen to BBG broadcasts on radio, 92 million watch on television, and 12-13 million access BBG content via new media.
The 175 million weekly audience estimate refers to unduplicated audience, which means that although an individual may listen to or watch content on more than one platform, the individual is only counted once.
The estimate includes research in more than 70 countries representing 2.8 billion people. The majority of the surveys were conducted within the past year, and all data was fielded within the past five years.
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