BBC Radio 4 Extra is now the UK’s biggest digital-only radio station after adding more than half a million weekly listeners in the last 12 months.
The comedy and drama station now has a reach of 2.17 million, up from 1.72m in Q4/14 and 1.66m in Q1/14. It’s the first time ever that Radio 4 Extra’s audience has gone above the 2m mark.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said: “Radio 4 Extra was once a hidden gem in the BBC Radio portfolio. I’m delighted it has now been discovered by record numbers of listeners who are enjoying its unique blend of speech programmes, old and new. Our digital-only networks are coming of age and complementing our traditional stations in bringing distinctive content to a wide audience.”
Digital stations 5 live Sports Extra and BBC 6 Music are both up too compared with this time last year – 5LSX’s coverage of the cricket world cup helped it to 1.32m weekly listeners, up from 817,000 in Q1/14. 6 Music’s audience is now 2.06m, up from 1.93 twelve months ago. BBC World Service listening in the UK is up from 1.30m to 1.35m, and the BBC Asian Network has improved on last year’s Q1 figure of 478,000 to now reach 562,000.
But all of the main BBC national network stations, as well as 1Xtra, lost audience over the last 12 months, according to the latest RAJAR figures.
Radio 1 is down from 10.53m to 9.70m while 1Xtra has shed more than a quarter of a million listeners. It now has 839,000 compared with 1.10m a year ago.
Radio 2 is still the UK’s biggest radio station but drops from an audience of 15.57m to 15.09m, although audience share is up to 18.1% (from 17.9% in Q1/14).
Radio 3 is down slightly from 2.09m to 2.08m.
Radio 4‘s weekly reach is now 10.89m, down from 10.95m last year.
And Radio 5 live posted a reach of 5.76m, down from 6.17m in Q1/14.
Overall, BBC Radio has a 54.4% share of UK radio listening (52.8% last quarter and 54.9% last year), reaching 34.87m people each week. Listening to BBC Radio on digital platforms is up from 36.6% to 40.7% now, with AM and FM listening dropping from 57.9% of the audience to 53.8% in Q1/15. 30% of the BBC’s audience is now listening on DAB, 5.5% online and 3.8% via digital television.
The BBC highlights that the audience lost by Radio 1 is the older audience it is not intended to target, with half a million listeners aged 30 and over leaving the station. Nick Grimshaw‘s breakfast show now has an audience of 5.50m – that’s down 35,000 from this time last year. But the station says nearly 90% of the change is listeners over 30.
Chris Evans now has 9.46m (down from a record 9.83m last year), while Radio 4’s Today Programme reaches 7.06m a week, remaining constant year on year.