(PA)
27 October 2022

Radio 4 and 5 Live suffer drop in listeners over past year

27 October 2022

BBC stations Radio 4 and 5 Live have suffered a sharp drop in listener numbers for both their breakfast shows and total audience over the past year, new figures show.

Radio 4’s flagship Today current affairs programme, which runs from 6am to 9am, saw its average audience slip from 6.5 million listeners in July to September 2021 to 5.9 million in the same quarter this year – a drop of 9%.

5 Live’s breakfast show recorded an even larger percentage fall over the period, down 20% from 1.7 million listeners to 1.4 million, which coincides with Rick Edwards replacing Nicky Campbell as lead presenter in November 2021.

Radio 4’s total average audience is down 9% year-on-year from 10.8 million listeners to 9.8 million listeners, while listeners to 5 Live have dropped 18% from 5.9 million to 4.9 million.

The figures have been published by the research body Rajar, and show that all the major BBC stations have seen a decline in listeners over the past 12 months.

But the drop is much smaller for Radios 1 and 2, whose overall audience has dipped only slightly by 1%.

And Radio 2’s breakfast show, hosted by Zoe Ball, has seen a 2% rise in listeners year-on-year, from 7.2 million to 7.4 million.

Helen Thomas, head of Radio 2, said: “It’s fantastic that, at a time when many people go away and their daily routines change, The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show bucked the usual summer trend and saw many more listeners tuning in.”

Greg James’ breakfast show on Radio 1 is down 5% from 4.3 million to 4.1 million.

There has been a striking drop in listeners to Radio 3, whose average audience has fallen by just over a fifth (21%) from 2.2 million to 1.7 million, while listeners to its breakfast programme have fallen by 16% from 708,000 to 595,000.

It is the first time year-on-year comparisons have been possible since Rajar changed the way it compiles audience data in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It now uses a mixture of in-person surveys and data collected remotely, instead of the pre-pandemic method of basing its findings entirely on surveys set up through face-to-face interviews.

The latest figures also show the BBC World Service experienced a jump in listeners in the spring of this year, possibly due to the war in Ukraine, but its audience fell 15% in the most recent three months and is down 14% on the same period last year.

GB News saw its average audience increase by 50% from 277,000 in April to June to 415,000 in July to September.

TalkRadio fell by 7% over the same period, from 686,000 to 637,000 – though the station is up 42% year-on-year from 450,000.

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