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Rajar Q2 2014: commercial radio makes gains on BBC

Commercial radio reported a slight rise in listeners in the second quarter of 2014, while the BBC stations posted slight falls overall, according to the latest Rajar audience figures.

Listening figures: commercial radio gained slightly on the BBC in Q2

Listening figures: commercial radio gained slightly on the BBC in Q2

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Although the BBC's weekly reach only reported a small dip of 0.2 per cent from the first three months of the year, it compared with a 1.0 per cent increase for commercial radio in the three months to 22 June.

The share of the market between the two has rarely been closer, with BBC radio pulling in 35.23 million listeners each week, compared to commercial radio's 34.41 million-strong weekly audience.

And although commercial radio was more attractive to audiences aged 15 to 44 – who clocked up an average 12.5 listening hours each week – it was the over-45s who bolstered the BBC stations, each listening for an average 19.2 hours.

The BBC's biggest station, Radio 2, reported a slight decline in its weekly reach, from more than 15.56 million listeners in the first three months of the year, to 15.50 million in the second quarter.

The BBC's flagship Radio 2 breakfast show with Chris Evans has gone from strength to strength, growing his weekly audience to 9.91 million in the second quarter, up 0.75 per cent on Q1 2014.

The increase comes amid Evans' fifth year of hosting the BBC Radio 2 show, after taking over from the BBC stalwart Sir Terry Wogan in early 2010.

Despite Nick Grimshaw's Radio 1 breakfast show managing to regain around a quarter of the 450,000 listeners it lost between Q4 2013 and the first quarter of this year, the 'Today' programme on its sister station Radio 4 has suffered.

Previously the number-two breakfast show in the country,' Radio 4 Today' has dropped to third place behind Radio 1, pulling in 10.53 weekly listeners, while its breakfast show – popularly known as the 'Today' programme - has lost 250,000 listeners.

Nationally, commercial radio is way behind BBC network radio, which has a weekly reach of around 32.26 million (down 1.2 per cent year on year), compared to national commercial radio's 17.11 million (down 3.4 per cent year on year).

However, the BBC local radio service had 8.99 million listeners in the second quarter (down 5.8 per cent year on year), while local commercial radio stormed ahead with 27.49 million people tuning in each week, down 1.3 per cent year on year.

This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk

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