Two flagship BBC radio stations lose listeners since start of year

However, Radio 6 Music, Radio 2 and Radio 3 all either held steady or gained listeners in the same time period.

03 August 2022

Audiences for two of the BBC’s flagship radio stations have dropped sharply since the start of the year, new figures show.

Radio 5 Live and Radio 1 have seen their average weekly listeners drop by 13% and 8% respectively, with 5 Live shedding more than three-quarters of a million in six months.

Other stations have held steady, however, with the audience for 6 Music climbing to another record high.

Brit Awards 2020 – Arrivals – London
Greg James hosts the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show (Ian West/PA)

Radio 5 Live shed 436,000 listeners between the first and second quarter, the time period between March and June 2022, numbers from research body Rajar show.

A half-year comparison of figures indicates a fall of 763,000 for the station.

Radio 1 saw a quarter-on-quarter drop of 201,000, while the half-year drop was 692,000.

The quarter-on-quarter fall for Radio 4, excluding 4 Extra, was 308,000 – while its half-year drop was 187,000.

However, Radio 2 and Radio 3 both held steady quarter-on-quarter.

Both the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James and Radio 2 Breakfast Show with Zoe Ball generally held steady across the same time period, with James’ show gaining 25,000 listeners to reach 4.14 million.

Aled Haydn Jones, head of BBC Radio 1, said: “I’m so pleased to see an increase in listeners for Radio 1’s Breakfast Show with Greg James, as well as it remaining number one for our audience.

“It’s good to see the strategy we’ve developed at Radio 1 is working, indicating the strong connection the station has with young people across the UK on Radio, YouTube, iPlayer and socials.”

GB News radio, which launched in July 2021, saw an quarter-on-quarter increase of 38,000, from a relatively low base of 239,000 in March this year.

Rajar has cautioned against making comparisons with listening figures from before the Covid-19 pandemic, due to a change in the way it collects its data.

All figures used to be compiled using face-to-face market research, but this has now been replaced with a mixture of in-person surveys and data collected remotely via apps on smartphones and tablets.

The publication of results from the next quarter will mark one year since the change, therefore allowing year-on-year analysis which offers insight into any long-terms shifts in listener behaviour.

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