India has become the top overseas market for BBC News, with its Indian Languages services reaching 50 million audience in India, according to latest figures.
Recently added languages Punjabi, Gujarati, Telugu and Marathi have helped boost the numbers, the organisation stated.
Hindi and Telugu have grown the most — to over 18 million and 7.9 million respectively —while Tamil has 10.3 million viewers, Marathi 2 million, and Punjabi 3.5 lakh.
The services are also available in Bengali and Urdu.
Head of BBC World Service Jamie Angus said, “We saw a spike of activity around Balakot (air strike), as audiences were coming to the BBC after moments of national tension, when they knew we could provide them with trusted information. In India, we are committed to be free to air. We don’t need to make a commercial return in India to keep the show on the road.”
However, he said, the audience is still primarily male-heavy online and has yet to achieve proper gender balance. The South Asian BBC audience is 34 per cent women, and the company is targeting to reach 48 per cent women by 2022.
The BBC has reached a new high around the world as well, with 426 million viewers a week, the broadcaster stated. India has risen from 20 million viewers to 50 million, surpassing Nigeria (41 million) and the US (38 million).