The BBC is expanding its digital news team in the US by hiring a pair of executives from NPR and Peacock to lead the effort. NPR’s Digital News director Saeed Ahmed is joining the BBC where he will become head of digital journalism for the US market. The BBC has also hired Peacock’s senior vice president of programming, Jen Brown, as senior vice president of programming and content strategy for global digital news and streaming.
“The United States is a very innovative and exciting market for digital journalism in text, video and audio,” said Naja Nielsen, BBC News’ digital director. “Our media offering is already used by 50 million consumers each week, and we know we are more trusted than any other news brand in the United States”
Based in Washington, Ahmed will oversee digital news content targeting US audiences. He has been with NPR since April 2021 and has already spent 13 years with CNN.
“Having built his career on tangent with the evolution and proliferation of digital news, Saeed has consistently pioneered new ways to engage audiences and bring stories to life across a range of digital platforms,” Nielsen said. “His ability to understand what people want and develop compelling formats to meet their needs makes him the ideal person to drive our digital journalism strategy forward in the United States.”
Based in New York, Brown will be responsible for setting the broader content strategy for BBC news and factual digital platforms outside the UK. She has worked at NBCUniversal for 16 years, including a decade at NBC News.
“I know Jen Brown and Saeed Ahmed are just the team to lead and grow BBC News in the US,” Nielsen said in the announcement.
Rules live on the BBC Sounds app
The BBC has also released its third quarter digital consumption figures. The latest data shows there were 392 million plays of all audio on BBC Sounds, with a total of 178 million plays for podcasts and on-demand radio in the third quarter. But as the claim has grown in popularity, it also says the majority of listening is to live content, with two-thirds of all hours tuned to BBC Sounds being live streams.
BBC-produced podcasts aren’t just available on its BBC Sounds app, of course, and when downloads from all the different third-party apps where they’re also available are taken into account, the network says it had a total of 256 million global podcast downloads worldwide in the third quarter. Its most downloaded shows included Global News Podcast (BBC World Service), The Documentary (BBC World Service) and Newscast (BBC News).
“BBC Sounds continued to grow this year, with record numbers of people coming to us for our trusted, high-quality news content at the UK’s biggest news events and to help understand how policies could affect them,” said Jonathan Wall, Director of BBC Sounds.
The most listened to podcast on BBC Sounds during the third quarter was the on-demand version of the network’s newscast. The Newscast podcast also had its most listened to podcast episode ever with former Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Among those under 35, the series You’re Dead To Me was the most listened to. The comedy podcast that takes history seriously has consistently appeared in the top ten for all listeners and those under 35, for the past ten quarters.
The network didn’t provide specific download figures, but it also says true-crime and investigative podcasts were popular, with People – the series probing the psychology behind some of history’s most disturbing cases. modern – and the new series Gangster: The Story Of Curtis Warren among the most listened to podcasts for all adults and those under 35.
The build-up to the World Cup continued to attract young BBC Sounds listeners looking for football content with Jill Scott’s Coffee Club, The Footballer’s Football podcast and Match Of The Day among its biggest shows. But it was the Top 10 that had some of the highest proportions of listeners under 35, while Moment Of Truth was in the top 10 for listeners under 35.
Overall, the BBC says that during the third quarter an average of 4.3 million people used BBC Sounds each week. He attributes some of that to a new feature called Local To Me which helps users find content generated by their local BBC radio station.