Record mobile audience for BBC election coverage

Election page

As the dust settles on the UK General Election, we've been taking stock of how people followed the BBC's election night coverage on our digital services.

One of the things that stands out from the figures for traffic to BBC News Online last week is the record numbers who followed our coverage on mobile and tablet.

On Friday morning, between 6am and 7am as people woke up and checked in to see what had happened, almost everyone who came to our online coverage (85% of users to be precise) was on mobile or tablet.

Over the course of the day, we saw a new record for BBC News for both mobile (12.8m unique browsers) and tablet (4.9m)

Overall across BBC News Online we had 28.3m unique browsers on Friday, with the biggest peaks in traffic between 7am and 8am and then again between 12pm and 1pm. That's also a new record. Of those, 20.6m users were in the UK.

Our digital output was planned as a central part of the BBC's election coverage. It included:

  • Constantly updated news and analysis and a full live results service on mobile, tablet, app, social media and desktop
  • An Election "hub page" featuring the best of the BBC's coverage, including pages for each of the nations of the UK
  • An Election Live page, reporting every twist and turn of the campaign and election night, in text, images, video, audio, graphics and tweets, along with live streams of all the relevant BBC broadcasts, programmes and live events
  • A BBC team of experts who analysed and tested the claims and counter-claims of the politicians in a Reality Check feature on TV, radio and online
  • Interactive features and shareable guides, including a poll tracker and maps, a manifesto guide, an interactive "majority builder" and concise explanations in text, graphics and video of key issues and policies throughout the campaign
  • A page for every constituency in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with local results and postcode search, stories and updates as relevant, as well as candidate information, a constituency profile and quiz

A quick look at our traffic for last week shows people were looking at, among other things: Lots of story pages, especially the lead story; also the live pages, which clocked up 9.4m visitors over that week; the main results page with 6.9m, and 5.8m on the various constituency pages with local results and updates.

The manifesto guide created by our Visual Journalism team as a mobile-friendly set of 'cards' with brief summaries for the main issues and parties was visited by 2.4m unique browsers during the course of the campaign, with a spike in traffic in the last couple of days.

On our social media accounts David Cameron's victory speech video was the most popular BBC News Facebook post about the election, reaching 2.8m people and getting over 30,000 likes, comments and shares. On Twitter, Friday was the biggest day on record for our @BBCBreaking account, with over 66m views.

All our election pages were designed 'mobile first' by our product team, who started with the challenge of presenting all the stories, results, video, graphics and analysis in the narrowest mobile view, then worked up to bigger tablet and desktop screen sizes. We also made a few changes to the BBC News app to make sure the key election stories and results were easy to find.

For the journalists working on the online coverage this meant understanding how all the different elements - news, results, analysis, graphics - would fit together on different screen sizes, and the value of writing headlines that are quick to scan and stories that are simple to read.

These figures for our digital election coverage are just a small part of the bigger picture of the BBC's reporting and broadcasting of the election and its dramatic finale last week. But they are also the latest evidence for us of the continuing big changes in how people get their news. We hope that by continuing to anticipate and plan for those changes, we'll be able to keep delivering news services that fit into people's daily lives, whichever device or screen they happen to be using.