BBC radio listening figures hold steady through pandemic, figures suggest

Audience body Rajar has changed its method of gathering data.

BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show continues to be the most listened to show in the country, new figures show.

The morning programme, hosted by Zoe Ball, pulled in an average of 7.2 million weekly listeners from April 5 to September 19 2021, according to audience research body Rajar.

Figures suggest BBC audiences have held up through the pandemic, with 34.6 million people tuning in each week for live output across the stations, giving the corporation a share of 50.9% of listeners.

The method of collecting data has changed so significantly the latest figures cannot be compared with any previous data.

The Radio 1 breakfast show, hosted by Greg James, pulled in 4.3 million weekly listeners, while the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 drew 6.5 million in the same time period.

BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards 2019 – London
Greg James (Scott Garfitt/PA)

Rajar data was previously based on diaries kept by listeners. Under the new system that is now combined with an app that collects data via smartphones.

The new figures show Radio 2 had 14.6 million weekly listeners, with 10.8 million tuning into Radio 4 and 8.3 million tuning into Radio 1.

Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC, said: “As these figures show, live radio plays a unique role in people’s daily lives despite the disruption caused by the pandemic over the past 18 months, with listeners coming to our national stations for company, information and escapism.

“During this global crisis, we’ve also really seen the importance of local BBC  radio, as well as our stations in the nations, as they connect with communities, making a difference in all parts of the UK.

“Our breakfast shows continue to be hugely popular across our networks as millions choose to spend their mornings with our brilliant hosts, despite the huge changes to listening habits during the pandemic as people start their days later.”

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