In its annual report, the BBC has said is the most used media brand in the UK, revealing it is used by 90 per cent of adults on average per week, with the public choosing BBC programming and services around 250 million times a day.
Despite the challenges of lockdown (for the period the annual report covers), the BBC delivered on its public service mission to inform, educate and entertain with record numbers.
This has been achieved while making the BBC leaner – a key priority. Its total public sector workforce has reduced by over 1,200 – six per cent of the total workforce – the first significant drop in five years. Senior leader numbers are also down by over five per cent, and reduced spend on its top stars down by 10 per cent.
Time spent with the BBC went up to 18 hrs two minutes – from 17 hrs 45 minutes on average, per week. Over 28 million people came to the BBC for evening entertainment on an average day, and since April 2020 the broadcaster’s content has won 130 awards.
BBC iPlayer attracted record audiences with 6.1 billion streams – up 28 per cent on last year, and in January, there were a record 163 million streams in one week, as viewers devoured programmes like The Serpent, A Perfect Planet, Traces and EastEnders.
In recent weeks some 39 million people have watched the Euros, and 20 million have watched Wimbledon on the BBC this summer so far – with the Olympics and the Hundred still to come.
In 2020/21 there were 1.3 billion billion plays on BBC Sounds, with 900,000 more 16-34 year-olds using it for the first time in last six months, exceeding expectations.
In a year of complex news, as the UK battled the global coronavirus pandemic, audiences for the BBC News At Six were the largest in almost two decades. BBC One’s 6.30pm bulletin in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions is the UK’s most watched news programme.
BBC Chairman Richard Sharp says: “I’m proud of what the BBC has done to rally round the needs of the country throughout the Covid crisis. It has demonstrated very clearly the enduring importance of its public service mission. And against a landscape of unprecedented market pressures, it has kept delivering world-class programming across all genres. I believe the strategy the BBC has in place is the right one. While there is more work to do – particularly around impartiality, which the BBC has to get right – the BBC is on the right path.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie, adds: “The BBC has delivered outstanding content and value to audiences in extraordinary circumstances this year. I am proud of all we have achieved to inform, educate and entertain the Nation in record numbers during the pandemic. The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances. But, we know we must do much more to ensure licence fee payers across the UK get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without. I am absolutely focussed on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”
Responding to publication of the BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts, DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “It’s welcome that some of the BBC’s top-earners have agreed to ‘significant reductions’ in their salaries this year. Yet despite taking a pay cut, Gary Lineker is still earning £1.36 million.”
“There remains a concerning lack of transparency because a number of top-earning stars are paid through BBC Studios and their salaries don’t appear here. Claudia Winkleman is one of those missing from this list despite her work for Radio 2 and presenting Strictly.”
“Without any indication of whether these earnings have gone up or down, licence-fee payers are only getting half the picture on whether they are getting value for money. It’s time for the BBC to commit to full transparency on its talent bill and drop the smoke and mirrors approach.”