BBC radio launches reach 1m listeners

Five Live Sports Extra, digital sister of Five Live, has 331,000 listeners

The first listening figures for four of the BBC’s new digital radio services show they have a combined reach of more than one million, according to the latest Rajar figures.

Five Live Sports Extra, Radio Five Live’s digital sister station, recorded a reach of 312,000 in the quarter to 14 September.

Other BBC digital stations recording figures for the first time were black music station 1 Extra, which achieved a reach of 331,000 listeners; BBC Music, with a reach of 154,000; and BBC7, which broadcasts comedy, drama, readings and children’s programmes, with a reach of 236,000 listeners.

The BBC’s other digital services, the World Service and the Asian Network, have been reporting Rajar figures since the start of the year. The World Service has a reach of 1.4 million. The Asian Network showed an increased reach of 495,000, up from 421,000 in the previous quarter.

These figures mean the BBC’s national digital services now reach more than 2.5 million listeners.

Jenny Ambramsky, the BBC’s director of radio and music, described the digital figures as “very encouraging”. “Although the proliferation of new services might inevitably impact upon the BBC share, I am convinced that spearheading the move to digital was right for the future of the whole radio industry,” she said.

Research shows that more listeners – 20.4 per cent – are accessing digital radio through their television sets. Two years ago the figure was 12.6 per cent.

The relaunched London speech and news station LBC97.3FM has increased its reach, adding 41,000 listeners over the past quarter to record a weekly audience of 558,000.

Nick Ferrari increased the reach of his morning show by 22 per cent.

The Rajar figures show that radio listening across the BBC and commercial sectors is stable. Figures were slightly up on the last quarter, but slightly down year on year.

The split between the BBC and commercial radio is 51.8 per cent against 46.2 per cent in the BBC’s favour.

By Jon Slattery

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