In the Covid year of 2020, the VRT achieved high reach scores on radio, television and online. The reach of our newsroom VRT NWS, in particular, saw an all-time high in 2020. “Especially on television and digital platforms, we saw the reach of our news and analysis programs increase dramatically,” says Thijs Vanderhaegen, head of the VRT’s Research Department.
The latest edition of the annual Total Reach Study by the VRT Research Department shows nice results for the VRT. The reach study took place in the period from September to October last year, and included 2,494 Flemish people, ages 16 and up. It was conducted by the market research agency Kantar TNS.
“For six years now, we’ve been looking into our reach, or how many Flemish people tune in to our line-up every day or week, to find out if we are achieving our goals from the Management Agreement signed with the Flemish Government,” explains Thijs Vanderhaegen. “This year, we’ve succeeded again. According to our latest study, we’re reaching 90.2 percent of all Flemish people every week, just as many as in 2019.” Those are very strong scores, when you consider that the VRT agreed with the Flemish Government to reach at least 85 percent of all Flemish people each week.
The VRT’s daily reach is increasing sharply: it rose from 72 to 79 percent of all Flemish people. And why? “Probably, the increased need for news and entertainment caused by the Covid crisis. As such, we’re seeing 69 percent of Flemish people coming into contact with our news offering every day. In 2019, it was 61 percent.”
A digital leap
When we dig deeper into the numbers, the VRT is showing a stable weekly reach through the traditional platforms: radio (70%) and television (76%). “We’re seeing significant digital growth for the VRT. The weekly reach through our own sites and apps, and through social media, has risen from 32 to 39 percent. It seems that the Covid crisis has caused digital media usage to accelerate. Many Flemish people tried our digital channels for the first time during this period. Now, we just need to hang on to them,” concludes Vanderhaegen.
That digital acceleration can particularly be seen among youths between the ages of 16 and 24. “For the first time, we’re seeing that our weekly reach through digital channels (62%) is greater than our reach via traditional television (60%) for that group. This shift underscores the importance of our digital offering in continuing to achieve our mission: to inform, inspire and connect everyone.”
Audiences to pay attention to
“But we also take this study as a way to learn and improve. It is good news that we are reaching more and more Flemish people through our digital offering, but we do see that the gap in reach between people with higher degrees and those without is still quite large. Our weekly reach among the latter group is 84 percent, while it’s 94 percent among those with higher degrees. We also see the same challenge among Flemish people of foreign descent. The VRT’s weekly reach for this group is 78 percent. So, those are two target groups that deserve that extra attention.”