Radio Five Live hits target with World Cup coverage

Five Live’s Darbyshire, left, and Worricker: record listening figures

Brazil may have lifted the trophy but another team closer to home is now celebrating a record-breaking World Cup.

BBC Radio Five Live achieved its highest audience figures for the three months to June – largely thanks to its breakfast-time coverage of the tournament in Japan and Korea.

Figures published last week by monitoring service Rajar show the news and sports station attracted a weekly audience close to 7 million for the quarter, a period-on-period rise of 3.5 per cent.

The station sent breakfast presenter Victoria Darbyshire and talk show host Nicky Campbell over to the Far East and also signed Sky Sports football expert Andy Gray and commentator Jonathan Pearce for the month of the tournament, moves which evidently paid off.

The new figures show a massive 15 per cent jump in listeners for Five Live compared with the same period last year.

"It was a brave decision by Five Live to base the network in Japan and Korea throughout the World Cup," said BBC director of radio and music Jenny Abramsky. "These audience figures confirm Five Live’s position as the home of sport on radio."

The news and sports station’s early-morning success may have come partly at the expense of Radio 4’s Today programme.

Radio 4’s quarterly figures showed a drop of 2 per cent over the previous three months to 9.8 million –although it is still pulling 4 per cent more listeners than it was at the same time last year.

But most of Five Live’s new listeners are likely to have come as part of the early-morning exodus from Radio 1, where breakfast show presenter Sara Cox lost 700,000 listeners over the year. Her station’s figures slumped by 6.5 per cent to 10.5 million.

TalkSport also enjoyed the country’s month-long obsession with the beautiful game.

It reached 2.4 million people a week, the quarterly figures show – up 6.8 per cent from the previous period and nearly 8 per cent year-on-year.

Kelvin MacKenzie’s station now has an audience share of 1.8 per cent.

by Ian Reeves

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