Many breakfast radio shows now have smaller audiences than before the pandemic, according to new data.
Zoe Ball, Greg James, Roman Kemp, Chris Evans, and the Today program are among the shows with fewer listeners than the last time ratings were measured.
The decline can partly be explained by the fewer commuters as many people continue to work from home.
But industry body Rajar has urged caution when making comparisons because it is also measuring audiences in new ways.
The latest radio listening data is the first to be released since May 2020 and now incorporates smartphone data into the methodology.
The ratings cover July to September this year, including some data based on a smaller sample of listeners from the previous three months.
Some breakfast DJs, such as Radio X’s Chris Moyles, appear to have countered the downward trend for breakfast programs; while radio listening in general has slightly increased and many stations have improved their overall range.
BBC Radio 5 Live, for example, has seen significant momentum, probably aided by coverage of summer sporting events such as the Europeans and Olympics.
The station attracted 5.9 million weekly listeners between July and September, compared to 5.2 million before the pandemic.
The increase in listening to the radio as a whole, juxtaposed with the decrease in the audience of breakfast programs, suggests that the figures reflect how listening habits and lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic.
The latest audience figures show:
- Times Radio, launched in June 2020, attracted a whopping 637,000 weekly listeners. This is the first time its official figures have been released.
- This places it above other voice stations such as Talk Radio, which had 450,000 listeners in the last quarter, but that’s an improvement over the last pre-pandemic figure of 424,000.
- Another new station, Radio boom, debuted to an audience of 233,000. Aimed at the baby boom generation, the station was seen as a rival to Radio 2 for listeners who felt the BBC station had twisted too young in recent years.
- Chris Evans saw its Virgin Radio audience drop below 1.1 million in early 2020, to 985,000 this quarter. However, Rajar advised caution when comparing new data to historical data due to his new methodology.
- With the same caveat, BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball it attracted an audience of 7.2 million listeners, down from the latest available ratings of 8.1 million recorded in the first quarter of 2020. However, it remains the largest breakfast show in the UK.
- Radio 1 breakfast host Greg James it fell to 4.3 million, from a previous value of 4.9 million. However, since last May, its show schedule has changed, with a later start time of 07:00 and later than other breakfast shows, at 10:30.
- Capital breakfast host Kemp. Roman it attracted 2.8 million listeners. Before the pandemic and with the old measurement system, that figure was 3.3 million.
- A spokesperson for Radio 1 pointed out that the station has a young target and the figures would be higher if children over the age of 10 were included. This would also be true for Capital. Radio 1 drew attention to its strong presence on social media and YouTube, where their channel attracts 1.62 million views per day.
- Kiss breakfast, which received new guests last year in Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely, fell from 1.4 million in the latest figures to 980,000.
- BBC Radio 4 today program attracted 6.5 million. The latest figures available were nearly seven million in the first quarter of 2020.
- BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast attracted two million listeners, down slightly from 2.1 million in May 2020.
- Chris Moyles crossed the 1 million mark for the first time since he took over Radio X Breakfast Show in 2015, making him one of the few early risers to have increased their audience with the new methodology.
- Heart Breakfast Show, presented by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden, was the most listened to commercial breakfast show in the UK, with 4.1 million listeners.
- Voice station LBC celebrated an all-time record, with three million weekly listeners.
- Chris Evans
- Zoe Ball
- Coronavirus pandemic
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