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RAJARs: BBC Radio 4 loses 300,000 listeners as podcast uptake increases

LBC’s audience has grown by almost 500,000 people in the past year to reach 2.6m, the highest weekly reach in the station’s 46-year history.

Meanwhile BBC Radio 4 shed 300,000 listeners in the past year, with its weekly reach down from 10.64m during the third quarter of 2018 to 10.34m this year according to the latest RAJAR figures.

Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme Today had a weekly reach of 6.72m in the same period this year, down from 6.98m last year and 7.02m in the previous quarter.

The dip came as the BBC said the RAJAR data for 24 June to 15 September showed a “significant increase” in podcast listening, with almost a quarter of 15 to 34-year-olds listening to podcasts.

Scroll down for all weekly listening figures

Podcasts now reach 8.4m listeners in the UK, up from 6m last year. At the BBC alone 7.4m people listen online or through apps.

James Purnell, director of BBC radio and education, said: “Young people’s audio habits have already been transformed with music streaming and the boom in podcasting.

“These are now spreading wider, with the overall podcast audience growing by 40 per cent during the past year alone and online listening is increasing too.

“Our goal is to keep live listening as strong as possible. We also want to grow BBC Sounds which allows our audiences to discover new podcasts and music mixes, expertly curated by our teams, as well as listen to all our stations and catch up on their favourite shows conveniently.”

Purnell added that BBC Sounds, which replaced the former BBC iPlayer radio app last month, now has more than 2.5m weekly users, up about 50 per cent since July.

Elsewhere at the BBC the biggest success this quarter was at BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra with an additional 530,000 weekly listeners year-on-year to 2.2m due to what Purnell called a “sensational summer of sport” with the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes.

Global Radio’s LBC, which has announced it will launch a dedicated LBC News station next week, saw two of its most well-known presenters reach their most-ever listeners as part of the station’s record figures.

Nick Ferrari’s (pictured) breakfast show now reaches 1.5m listeners each week, up 321,000 year-on-year, while Eddie Mair now has 865,000 weekly listeners to his afternoon show, up 199,000 since he joined LBC from BBC Radio 4 in September last year.

Global founder and executive president Ashley Tabor-King said LBC, and in particular Ferrari’s figures, were “incredibly rewarding, especially ahead of the launch of our new rolling news service on Monday, LBC News, which will be breaking news 24/7”.

LBC’s commercial competitor Wireless, owned by News UK, said Talkradio’s listeners had grown 57 per cent year-on-year to 409,000 listeners.

Wireless’ talk radio network, comprising of Talkradio, Talksport, and Talksport Two, grew audience reach by two per cent year-on-year.

Wireless chief executive Scott Taunton said Talkradio “continues to set the pace for Brexit analysis and posts another record result” while Talksport had “performed solidly in a summer without a major men’s football tournament”.

Weekly listeners for June-September 2019 (RAJAR):

BBC
Radio 4 – 10.34m
Radio 5 Live – 4.98m
BBC World Service (UK) – 1.21m
BBC local radio –7.43m
(Radio 2 – 14.18m)

Wireless
Talkradio –409,000

Global
LBC – 2.6m

Picture: LBC

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