The Q3 RAJAR figures are in – and it was a good quarter for the BBC as its biggest stations followed their 50th anniversary celebrations – and a starring role on Music Week’s first new-look front cover – with a solid set of results.
BBC Radio 2 marked the occasion by taking its reach back above 15 million to 15.357 million, up 3.2% quarter-on-quarter and up 1.4% year-on-year. The Chris Evans Breakfast Show listener figures also jumped to 9.35m. Ken Bruce, who follows Evans, now has a weekly reach of 8.77m, up from 8.3 million last quarter.
Helen Thomas, Network Editor, Radio 2 said: “Ken Bruce joined BBC Radio 2 in 1982 sitting in for Ray Moore, so for him to attract a record weekly audience of 8.77m listeners 35 years later is a huge achievement. Congratulations to Ken – the ultimate PopMaster!”
Meanwhile, Radio 1 looks increasingly stable after some volatile figures in recent results. It posted a reach of 9.697m, up 1.2% q-o-q, although still down 1.8% year-on-year.
Radio 1’s sister station 1Xtra also continued to grow its audience figures with 1.082m listeners, up 5.5% year-on-year and 4.9% quarter-on-quarter.
BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network controller Ben Cooper said: “Radio 1 continues to be the most relevant youth brand in the UK today. Having just been crowned National Radio Station of the year [at last week’s ARIAs], 1Xtra further grows on its one million plus listenership and sees the highest ever audience for the Breakfast Show.”
Elsewhere, BBC Radio 6 Music broke its audience record yet again, with a new high of 2.43 million listeners in Q3, up 3.8% y-o-y and 8.7% q-o-q.
The station has seen increases in audience numbers across the schedule, with Lauren Laverne, Radcliffe & Maconie and Steve Lamacq all pulling in over a million listeners.
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music, said: “These are great results for BBC 6 Music, which is one of the most exciting radio innovations in the last 20 years and is second to none for its brilliant roster of music curators across the schedule.”
It was a tougher quarter for commercial radio, but there were still some impressive results. For Bauer, the Kiss Network was up 4.8% year-on-year to 5.686m and the Magic Network up 1.7% to 3.747m. Absolute’s main station was down y-o-y, although up 16.9% q-o-q, and there were gains for Absolute ‘80s and ‘90s.
Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “This is a great set of results showing how our strong brands are delighting audiences across the UK. Our consistently outstanding breakfast performances from KISS and Absolute Radio highlight the strength of our world-class talent.”
The specialist music stations were the pace-setters for Global, with Capital Xtra up 10.6% y-o-y to 1.464m, while Radio X hit a new record with 1.523m, up 20.4% on Q3 2016. Classic FM was also up to 5.433m.
Richard Park, group executive director & director of broadcasting at Global, said: “Global continues to grow its audience with 25.2 million people tuning in every week. I’m particularly pleased that LBC, Capital Xtra and Radio X have set new records and just six months on from launch, Heart ‘80s is already reaching more than one million listeners every week.”
And keep an eye on the reborn Virgin Radio. It made a quiet start but its Q3 reach hit 556,000, a huge 61.2% increase on this time last year.