Sunday 11 December 2016

Radio 1 boss defends station after audience fall of nearly one million

Published 04/08/2016 | 00:06

Nick Grimshaw's breakfast show saw its average weekly audience fall from 5.84 million to 5.43 million
Nick Grimshaw's breakfast show saw its average weekly audience fall from 5.84 million to 5.43 million

The boss of BBC Radio 1 has defended the network's latest drop in audience, saying listeners are "only part of the picture".

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Station head Ben Cooper spoke out as new data showed Radio 1's average weekly audience plunged by nearly a million from April-June 2015 to the same period this year.

The figures, from the audience research body Rajar, also recorded a drop of almost half a million listeners for Radio 1 breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw.

But there was better news for the BBC Radio 4, 6 Music and the Asian Network, all of which reported their highest ever weekly audiences.

Responding to the figures, Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said: "To focus solely on [the] Rajars is similar to looking at how many newspapers have been sold without looking at their online presence or national influence.

"Rajar are only part of the picture for Radio 1 and our listeners should be seen alongside increases on our YouTube channel as it goes past one billion views and our growing social media platforms with over 8.5 million users."

Radio 1's weekly average audience fell from 10.44 million in April-June 2015 to 9.46 million in April-June 2016.

The Radio 1 breakfast show, presented by Nick Grimshaw, saw its average weekly audience fall from 5.84 million to 5.43 million over the same period.

Audiences also fell for Chris Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show, dropping from 9.70 million to 9.47 million.

By contrast, listeners to the flagship Today programme in the breakfast slot on Radio 4 reached a new high of 7.35 million, while Radio 4 as a whole also attracted a record audience of 11.51 million.

Gynweth Williams, Radio 4 controller, said: "With increased global competition for people's time, it's gratifying to see that Radio 4 is as relevant and important as ever to our audiences.

"They come to us so that they can make sense of the modern world, and our listeners trust us to bring them a uniquely rich and surprising mix of programmes - from the biggest political interviews to the context in global debates, science, original drama and satire.

"Rather than simply wanting a quick fix on the headlines as they wake up, our discerning listeners turn to Today to hear some of the best journalism and interviewing in the world, giving them a deeper understanding of the stories of the day."

The new figures also show that another Radio 4 staple, The Archers, saw its audiences climb to 4.95 million listeners, up from 4.62 million on the previous year.

During the three months covered by the latest data, Archers listeners heard a long-running domestic violence plot culminate in a stabbing, arrest and imprisonment.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 3 recorded the station's highest audience for five years with a figure of 2.20 million, up from 1.89 million last year.

The station recently revamped a number of programmes, besides launching The Listening Service and introducing the Birdsong segment, which saw bird calls being broadcast at various intervals.

Radio 3 controller Alan Davey said: "It's brilliant to have the highest reach in five years, especially as we are heading towards the 70th anniversary of the Third Programme and its mission, which we share, to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture."

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