Television and Mobile Ubiquitous in Vietnam

A young man in Vietnam watches television.

A young man in Vietnam watches television.

Washington, DC — Ninety-eight percent of Vietnamese households own a television, and nearly nine in 10 have a mobile phone in their household.

These are among the findings issued today by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup from a nationally representative, face-to-face survey of Vietnamese adults about media use habits in their country. In addition to questions about programming and media, the survey asked respondents to name issues that were important to them. Topics that were found to be most of interest included the weather, environmental concerns, and territorial issues with China.

“It is vital for us on the Board to have this kind of research, and this partnership with Gallup,” said Governor Michael Meehan of the BBG. “This is the kind of information we need in order to prioritize and set policy on how to best connect with people in more than 100 countries across the world.”

Overall, Vietnamese are avid news consumers; nine in 10 (89.8%) say they access news at least daily, while nearly 94% do so at least once a week. Access to TV news varies little by gender, education or urban vs. rural residence. This in part reflects the finding that televisions are ubiquitous throughout the country, including in both urban (98.6%) and rural (97.0%) households.

“Vietnam has a vibrant television market,” said Jinling Elliott, Digital Media Research Analyst at the International Broadcasting Bureau. “People may have a tiny house, they may not have furniture, but they do have a TV.”

Television ownership is nearly universal in Vietnamese households; however other media are increasingly being used to also access news and information.

“Vietnam is changing very rapidly. Traditional media remains dominant, but new media is being pushed forward, especially by youth and educated populations. We see Google as the number one non-television source for news for the Vietnamese people,” said Betsy Henderson, Director of Research, Training, and Evaluation at Radio Free Asia.

But due to restrictive laws pertaining to activity online, roadblocks remain to engaging with audiences. “People are cautious about sharing hard news on social media to begin with, and the Vietnamese government is increasingly proactive in cracking down when it does happen,” Henderson noted.

The data find that nearly nine in 10 (87%) have a mobile phone in their household, and more than three-quarters of adults (77.6%) say they personally own a mobile phone. Although most of these are low-end phones without Internet capability, 27.5% of mobile owners (21.3% of all Vietnamese adults) do have web-capable phones. Past-week Internet use was highest with Vietnamese under age 25 (58%) and those with a post-high school education (60%). Internet-capable phones are also most likely to be owned by those under 25.

“What matters to our audiences? The BBG is committed to supporting free and democratic societies by fostering a free press and free expression. In order to connect with audiences around the globe, we have to understand them,” said Bruce Sherman, Director of Strategy and Development for the BBG.

The Voice of America and Radio Free Asia reach Vietnam using a multi-platform approach, including satellite television, radio, and multimedia, interactive websites. The Broadcasting Board of Governors also deploys Internet anti-censorship tools to many markets, including Vietnam.

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The research brief from this event can be found here. The video and slide deck will be posted within the next few days.

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