Pacific audiences turn to ABC during COVID-19

Just as Australian audiences have looked to the ABC during the COVID-19 crisis for news, information and entertainment, audiences in the Pacific have relied on ABC programming in recent months to stay informed about coronavirus.

For more than 80 years the ABC has provided broadcast services of the highest quality to the region and the relationship with those communities remains strong today. This relationship is built not only on programs that inform, educate and entertain but also through the strong training initiatives the ABC has helped bring to Pacific communities to ensure they can tell their own stories.

The ABC produces, acquires, and distributes news, sport, entertainment, educational, children’s, drama, and factual content across multiple touchpoints including ABC Radio Australia, ABC Australia television, and its digital platforms, including ABC Australia iview. ABC services provide timely, accurate information about COVID-19 to the region with strong engagement across all platforms including on the Tok Pisin radio program, Wantok.

Snapshot of ABC audiences in the Pacific:

  • The audience reach of ABC Australia television is estimated as 389,000 monthly viewers. 6% of the adult population (14+ years) in PNG, and 4% in Fiji have viewed ABC Australia television in the past 30 days.
  • The audience reach of ABC Radio Australia is estimated as 407,000 monthly listeners. 7% of the adult population (14+ years) in PNG, and 3% in Fiji, have listened to ABC Radio Australia in the past 30 days.
  • Digital audiences on ABC web and app is estimated as 77,000 monthly users.

The ABC also serves audiences on digital platforms. Since January, ABC content in the Pacific has recorded:

  • 29,000 average weekly users of ABC web services and apps across Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, 47% above the same period last year. Weekly users were the highest in March when the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in the region.
  • 577,000 views on its YouTube channels from across Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, an increase of 220% from the same period last year.

ABC Australia is available as a 24-hour channel or as content blocks on local broadcasters in 40 territories across the Indo-Pacific. At the end of 2019, there were 1.6 million monthly viewers of ABC Australia, in 10 markets in Asia (affluent adults only); it is estimated that in 2019 the unique monthly audience reach of ABC Australia was 2.1 million.

Alongside ABC-produced programming, ABC Australia has broadcast many well-received entertainment programs into the Pacific region including 800 Words, Doctor Doctor (aka The Heart Guy), Love Child, Totally Wild and Scope, and is looking forward to sharing programs such as SeaChange, Brainbuzz and the AFL once the season returns.

The ABC also supports media development in Pacific media organisations through training and expertise that supports them in pursuing quality journalism, engaging storytelling and building strong connections with their communities. Critical for the national identity and unity of Pacific people, it empowers them to tell their own stories of culture, language, past and future, and to share them with the world.

The development of staff, skills, experience and expertise means Pacific broadcasters can strive for accurate and impartial journalism, produce public interest content such as elections coverage, news, human interest stories, drama and emergency broadcasting, and currently provide information to help communities get through COVID-19, working across all media platforms.

Overall international audiences turning to the ABC digital platforms during the COVID-19 crisis include:

  • 49,000 downloads of the ABC NEWS app from outside Australia, 113% above the same period the previous year. In March-April 2020 (peak COVID-19 pandemic period) there were 27,000 downloads alone.
  • 9 million average weekly users of the ABC NEWS web services and app from outside Australia since January, a 51% increase from the same period last year.
  • More than 70 million views of ABC NEWS on YouTube recorded from outside Australia, 43% above the same period last year.

Sources: Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics and AppFigures, Weeks 1-21 2020; Tebbutt Media Survey in Papua New Guinea and Fiji, Q1 2019; Ipsos Affluent Asia Survey in 10-markets, Q4 2019

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