Rajar Q1 2015: Commercial radio loses out as BBC makes minor gains

Nick Grimshaw: BBC Radio 1 host
Nick Grimshaw: BBC Radio 1 host

BBC radio has scraped an upturn in its overall weekly audience reach in the first quarter of 2015, while commercial radio suffered a decline during the same period.

The latest Rajar audience listening figures for the three months to 5 April 2015 show a total of 
34,872,000 people tuned into BBC radio, up slightly by 0.2 per cent on the previous quarter. 

However, the tiny increase comes against an annual backdrop that shows BBC listening was down 1.3 per cent on Q1 2014.

The rise sets the BBC slightly apart from commercial radio, which experienced a 1.3 per cent dip in listening down to an audience of 33,916,000 over the last quarter.

And while there was some growth among the smaller BBC stations – notably Radio 3 (2.7 per cent) and Radio 5 Live (2.6 per cent) – the flagship brands failed to perform.

Attracting just over 15 million listeners in Q1, Radio 2 experienced a 1.3 per cent contraction in its reach over the final quarter of 2014, which translated into a 3.1 per cent decline year on year.

Radio 1 seemed to have lost some of its spark, as its audience fell well below the 10 million mark to around 9.7 million following a seven per cent drop in listeners since the last quarter and a 7.9 per cent fall since Q1 2014.

But there was some good news, as the second-largest BBC station, Radio 4, managed to pull in an additional 1.2 per cent of listeners, giving it a reach of 10.886 million.

Over in commercial radio, fairly flat figures typified the first quarter, with the larger networks hovering over small changes.

Heart dropped 0.6 per cent reach, while Capital fell 2.2 per cent, Classic declined 0.8 per cent, while Smooth was down 0.5 per cent.

Of the larger stations, only Talksport had much to write home about, with an eight per cent increase in its reach on the final quarter of 2014.

Rajar also reported that 47.8 million adults tuned into the radio each week in the first quarter, down by around 50,000 on the previous reporting period.

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