BBC TV Centre

The BBC reaches nearly every person in the country

Credit: AberCJ on Flickr

The weekly audience of BBC Online increased by 2.5 million on average in 2010/11 compared with the previous year, according to figures released today in the BBC's annual report.

The latest statistics suggest a total of 19.5 million adults in the UK use the site each week, up from 17 million in 2009/10.

This represents a total of 57 per cent of online adults according to the broadcaster, coming third for audience reach behind BBC One and BBC Two.

"This growth was driven by particularly strong performances for news, with BBC Online playing an important role in engaging audiences with major news stories such as the severe weather, the Japanese earthquake and the general election," the report claims.

"In addition, the increasing use of smartphones and tablet devices helped to extend reach and usage, with around 2.6 million adults using them to access the BBC each week."

The report found that overall appreciation scores for BBC Online fell slightly, by one per cent, which was put down to "initial reaction" to major site relaunches.

The broadcaster said it would continue to monitor quality perceptions of BBC Online closely.

In the report, the BBC claims it is projected that the reach of BBC Online will grow to 65 per cent of online adults by 2013/14, as a result of the BBC's new online strategy.

The new strategy includes a 25 per cent budget cut and aims to improve the overall quality and coherence of the service, fulfilling the broadcaster's aim to "do fewer things better".

As part of today's report the BBC also revealed more details of its "talent spend", such as that 19 individuals earn more than £500,000 a year, two less than in the previous year.

According to a BBC News report on the figures around £7.39 million was spent specifically on presenters earning between £500,000 and £999,999, although a spokesman declined to confirm this to

The BBC News report also claimed that the total amount paid to "stars" earning more than £1 million had decreased by 14 per cent on the previous period.

Executive board members' pay, as of 1 May 2011, has decreased by 43 per cent on the previous year the report added, although this was said to be partly due to the board having three fewer members.

"On a like-for-like basis, the average executive board member at the BBC now receives nearly a quarter less pay and remuneration than a year ago," the report said.

Last week BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said he would ban bonuses and other perks for senior BBC managers.

In his inaugural public speech as trust chair Patten said "no executive board member will get a bonus in future", warning that the broadcaster needed to "distance itself in this way from the market".

Alongside the annual report, the trust today published the new pay strategy for the BBC which confirms the measures outlined by Lord Patten.

"Over the course of a week, the BBC reaches nearly every single person in the country. Four out of five people say they would miss it if it wasn't there. This is testament to the quality and breadth of programming that the BBC provides, from last year's hard-hitting election coverage through to new costume drama Sherlock," Lord Patten said in a release accompanying the report.

"Of course the organisation isn't perfect, and it faces big challenges. As audience choice proliferates, the BBC's role at the centre of UK cultural life becomes more important. It must continue to act as a beacon of quality and standards within a new tighter financial settlement.

"As well as stretching efficiencies, this will mean some tough choices – the trust is clear that the BBC must retain distinctive and high quality content in areas that matter to audiences. We're working hard with the executive on the detail of how the new licence fee will be implemented, and will share these plans with the public as soon as possible."

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).