Voice of America added 5.7 million weekly users during fiscal year 2019, reaching a weekly measured global audience of 280.9 million, according to the latest annual numbers just released by the U.S. Agency for Global Media. VOA, which is the largest of the five USAGM networks, has experienced a continuous audience growth trajectory for at least the last five years.
Significant increases were measured in Mexico (+5.2 million, or +7.3 percentage points in reach), Afghanistan (+4.3 million, or +35.1 percentage points), Pakistan (+3 million, or +2.2 percentage points), Zimbabwe (+2.4 million, or +28.6 percentage points) and Malawi (+2.4 million, or +21.6 percentage points), with six-figure increases achieved in several smaller markets. These gains were offset by losses in very populous Indonesia (-8.7 million, or -6.8 percentage points) and Nigeria (-1.2 million, or -1.8 percentage points).
In the markets with gains of at least three million, all platforms attracted new audiences, with the exception of TV in Pakistan where audiences remained flat. VOA TV in Mexico, however, surged with the addition of a successful new affiliate. At the same time, digital audiences are growing exponentially, albeit from a smaller base than historically larger TV audiences. For example, in Indonesia despite the loss of TV audiences, VOA digital audiences have grown by nearly 600 percent since 2016.
“Our audience growth is a reflection of the people’s desire for unbiased and independent news and information,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “I’m really proud that once again, VOA continues to serve as an example of free press in action around the world.”
In addition to weekly audience size, the USAGM most recent audience surveys indicate that VOA provides programming that the audience finds trustworthy and important for their understanding of current events. 83% of VOA’s audience considers the information the network provides as trustworthy, while 76% of the audience believes that VOA’s programming has increased their understanding of current events.