Ofcom reports on performance of the BBC

25 October 2018

The BBC is generally delivering for audiences, but must go further in areas such as transparency, taking creative risks and attracting young people, Ofcom’s annual report on the corporation has found.

Our report looks at how the BBC is performing against a backdrop of significant change in the media landscape. Major growth in online and connected devices, as well as superfast broadband, have enabled global online players such as Netflix and Amazon to rapidly establish themselves in the UK. YouTube now reaches more than 44 million people per month, while the number of people watching live TV has fallen for six successive years.

However, the BBC continues to play a central role across TV, radio and online. More than nine in ten adults consume BBC content each week; on average, we estimate that people spend 2 hours 44 minutes with the BBC every day.

Audience satisfaction with the BBC is relatively high. Three-quarters of people say they are satisfied with BBC radio (74%) and BBC websites and apps (75%), and just over two-thirds say they are satisfied with BBC TV (68%). A majority also agree that the BBC is delivering its ‘public purposes’ well.

However, Ofcom has identified four main areas where the BBC should go further:

  • Transparency. As a publicly-funded organisation, with a privileged status in the UK broadcasting sector, the BBC needs to be more transparent and accountable.
  • Original UK programmes. To remain distinctive, amid increasingly strong competition for TV audiences, the BBC should maintain its commitment to original UK content. The BBC will need to be more innovative and take more risks – both in the type of UK content it commissions, but also how it is made, and with whom.
  • Attracting young people. The BBC is not reaching enough young people. As well as providing content that appeals, it needs to find new ways of reaching younger people that suit and reflect their viewing and listening habits.
  • Representing and portraying UK society. Alongside today’s annual report, Ofcom has published the conclusions of a review of representation and portrayal on BBC Television. While viewers told us that the BBC – and TV in general – represents a wider mix of people than it used to, some people still feel less visible, or portrayed in ways that are narrow or inauthentic.

Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Viewers and listeners have told us the BBC is generally doing a good job. But it can go further in some areas. We expect the BBC to do more in attracting younger people, being bolder in the programmes it makes, and making original UK programmes that accurately reflect the lives of people around the UK.”

The BBC 2017/2018 – at a glance

Infographic of statistics relating to the BBC in 2017/18. The figures are as follows. Average minutes of BBC content per day across all devices: two hours and 43 minutes for all UK adults, and one hour and sixteen minutes for those aged sixteen to thirty-four. Satisfaction with the BBC by platform, all UK adults: 75% for on-demand; 74% for radio; 67% for TV. Of regular TV news viewers: 79% rate the BBC's news highly for helping them understand what's going on in the world today; 61% rate the BBC highly for providing impartial news; 73% rate the BBC highly for being trustworthy. Of all UK adults: 56% rate the BBC highly for taking risks and being innovative; 66% rat the BBC highly for high quality content; 68% rate the BBC highly for informative content; 63% rate the BBC highly for distinctive content. Around half rate the BBC highly for providing an authentic portrayal people like themselves or where they live. 92% of adults consumer BBC content each week, though this varies by age: 86% for 15 to 34 year-olds, and 96% for those aged 65 and over. BBC total content spend: since 2010/11, TV has fallen as a proportion of the BBC's total content spend, while spending on non-TV content has increased.