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A Record for Voice of America’s Global Audience Growth


VOA Serbian's Bratislav Djordjevic (L) and VOA Spanish's Lina Correa (R) reporting from the DNC.

VOA Serbian's Bratislav Djordjevic (L) and VOA Spanish's Lina Correa (R) reporting from the DNC.

Voice of America’s global weekly audience hit a record in 2016, surpassing every projection and growing by nearly 50 million – the largest jump ever in a single year. Now 236.6 million people around the world consume VOA’s programs, compared to 187.7 million in 2015, according to new figures released November 15 by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal entity that oversees all U.S. civilian international media, including the Voice of America.

The audience increase was recorded across all VOA platforms – TV, radio and mobile. Latest research collected by Gallup and other research firms shows that every week 154 million people are watching VOA television programs, 108 million people are listening to VOA on the radio and 34.5 million are reached through digital platforms. A quarter of this audience consumes VOA programs on all three platforms.

“I am really proud of the exponential audience growth since last year. This is a clear indication of VOA’s impact around the world every single day,” said Voice of America Director, Amanda Bennett. “Providing objective, insightful news and information is invaluable to our audiences worldwide and we are here doing just that.”

The largest audience increases were recorded in Indonesia (16.4 million), Mexico (6.2 million), Argentina (4.3 million), Colombia (4.2 million) and Peru (4.2 million). Major audience gains were also recorded in Tanzania (3.8 million), Burundi (2.9 million), South Africa (2.6 million) and Nigeria (2.6 million). In most cases, these increases were the result of VOA’s successful partnerships with important local broadcast outlets, which are some of the largest and most respected stations in many markets that carry Voice of America’s programs.

Thanks to the large increase in audiences throughout Latin America, VOA now reaches more people in Spanish than in any other language – 59.4 million. Indonesian comes second with 47.5 million and English third with 39.2 million.

VOA also increased its social media outreach around the world, especially in Southeast Asia with huge gains in video viewing and engagement on Facebook and YouTube. For example, VOA Khmer’s Facebook page is the second most popular in Cambodia, with 4.6 million fans, second only to the page of the Cambodian Prime Minister.

In addition to weekly audience size, VOA measures its impact using quantitative and qualitative data on a wide range of factors including program quality and credibility. Overall 86% of the weekly audience finds VOA’s programming “trustworthy”. The same percentage also reports that VOA’s broadcasts have increased their understanding of current events.

BBG's performance measures, the 2016 Performance and Accountability Report, along with the BBG's 2016 audience overview and explanation of research methodology are available here.

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