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Rajar round-up: BBC Radio 1 audience slides, Radio 4 gets ‘Brexit Boost’ and Virgin notes impressive first figures


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

August 4, 2016 | 5 min read

The latest quarterly Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) figures have been revealed, providing a snapshot of the listening figures for BBC and commercial radio stations across the UK and giving an insight into what shape the industry is in.


BBC Radio 1 has lost listeners but its controller says listeners are turning to digital platforms instead / BBC RADIO 1

Falling under the spotlight this quarter is the BBC Radio 1’s audience decline, the rise of digital radio and Bauer’s strong performance.

We’ve rounded up the top takeaways for you below, scroll down to take a look.



As ever, BBC Radio 1’s results garnered attention. The millennial-focused station has seen its audience drop to the lowest level for more than a decade – losing one million listeners over the past year.

During the same period last year, the broadcaster’s weekly listener count for its flagship offering sat at 10.4 million, today’s figures place it closer to 9.5 million – its lowest reach since 2003.

Ben Cooper, BBC controller for Radio 1 and its sister station 1Extra said the findings were “only part of the picture,” and asserted that the station’s digital platforms were growing.

“Radio 1, and our listeners should be seen alongside increases on our YouTube channel as it goes past 1 billion views and our growing social media platforms with over 8.5 million users,” Cooper continued.

“To focus solely on Rajars is similar to looking at how many newspapers have been sold without looking at their online presence or national influence.”

But it wasn’t all bad news for the BBC, both Radio 4 and 6 Music enjoyed record ratings, with the former’s Today programme benefiting from what the corporation described as a “Brexit boost”.

The show increased its weekly listener count by more than half a million users to 7.3 million thanks to its political coverage.

Overall, Radio 4 hit it’s highest-ever audience over 11.5 million, up from 10.6 million last year. 6 Music meanwhile, reached 2.27 million listeners per week.

Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio said of the stats: “BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 6 Music and the Asian Network are brilliant and unique. It's fantastic that audiences across the country are finding these stations in record numbers to enjoy as part of their daily lives.”


Owner of newly-launched Virgin Radio and TalkSport stations, Wireless Group, posted promising results for the second quarter of the year. The group, which was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp back in June, drew in 409,000 listeners to Virgin Radio, while TalkSport 2 launched with 285,000 listeners.

The original TalkSport, meanwhile, posted its second highest-ever results; saying it has attracted 3.3 million listeners each week in the most recent quarter.

In terms of commercial radio stations Bauer Radio put in a strong performance with its portfolio of stations reaching a record 17.8 million per week, with 11.6 million listeners tuning in on a digital device. The Kiss and Absolute radio networks were among its winners, with the combined channels of each reaching 5.5 million and 4.3 million fans each week.

Rival group Global also posted record results announcing that its flagship brand Capital is now reaching a record 8.5 million listeners every week and that across all of its properties 24.3 million people are tuning in across the UK. However, the group’s newest ticket Radio X has lost 51,000 listeners this quarter down to 1.18 million, though this is still a 33 per cent increase year-on-year for the station.

Breakfast shows


Virgin Radio has said it is pleased that Edith Bowman’s weekday breakfast slot is reaching more than 200,000 listeners each week.

Over on Radio X, Chris Moyles has noted a drop of 82,000 listeners compared to Q1, with a weekly reach of 694,000.

LBC’s Nick Ferrari has a weekly reach of 977,000 fans, which is a record number for the station’s breakfast slot, and on BBC Radio one Nick Grimshaw has 5.4 million listeners per week; down 400,000 year-on-year but no changes since Q1 of 2016.



This quarter LBC took the crown for the number one commercial station in London based on share with 6.6 per cent of the audience, Global-owned Capital took second place with 4.6 per cent while sister station Heart came in at number three with a share of 3.9 per cent.

When it came to commercial reach, Capital was the station that came out on top in, well the capital, noting a weekly average figure of 2.27m for the most recent quarter, 0.9 per cent down compared to the start of the year but still an increase on the same time last year.

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