A BBC News Study Finds That a Significant Number of Americans Watch International TV News At Least Once Per Week

By A.J. Katz 

The popular belief these days is that audiences are increasingly getting their news from social media or via non-linear television sources.

But according to the BBC, that’s not totally true. At least not when it comes to international news.

The BBC recently spoke with 2,500 TV subscribers in seven countries, with the most respondents coming from the U.S. and Norway.

The company found that for 45 percent of respondents, TV is the preferred way to get international news, a plurality by a significant margin. Just 11 percent got news from social media, and 14 percent from websites.

“It’s conventional wisdom that audiences are moving away from live TV, especially when it comes to news,” BBC News Global marketing and distribution director Chris Davies told TVNewser. “But, this study proved that conventional wisdom has it wrong. News consumers still get their international news from TV, particularly for live breaking news moments, and by a wide margin, TV viewers want their packages to include international news.”

Across Western Europe, Singapore, Canada and the U.S., 85 percent of respondents said they watch international news on TV at least weekly. They also said that they want international news as part of their ideal TV subscription bundle. It fact, according to their study, international news was the second most important channel genre in a cable package (only behind film), and the it was the third most popular kind of content in an ideal cable package, only behind film and documentaries, and ahead of comedy, drama, sports, music, lifestyle and kids programming.

“We were very interested to see the high percentage of news consumers who not only still get their international news from television, but who feel that international news is one of the main reasons to subscribe to a television package in the first place,” said Davies.

When asked to rank the “most important international news channel” in an ideal pay TV package, respondents chose BBC World News, followed in order by CNN Worldwide, CNBC, Euronews, Fox News, RT, Sky News, and Al Jazeera.

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings from the survey had to do with TV news consumption among millennials. Per the BBC, 62 percent of the 18-34-year-old respondents to the survey said they would downgrade or full out cancel their Pay TV package if they couldn’t access BBC World News. That’s the highest percentage of all age groups.

The average age of respondents to the BBC’s survey was 43, with a full 65 percent of respondents being between 25 and 54; So it’s not like the millennial sample size was tiny.

When asked how the study proves beneficial to BBC World News and how it might assist the television news industry as a whole, Davies remarked, “This study shows that we shouldn’t overlook the vast audience we already have on television, hungry for the content we’re already producing,” and added, “It’s impossible to deny that other platforms are growing rapidly, but as we prove in this study, it’s also true that TV remains a hugely important outlet for live news moments not just in America or the UK, but around the world.”