Increased listening for BBC Radio, BBC Sounds in Q4
February 2, 2023
More than 33 million people listened to BBC Radio stations live each week during the final quarter of 2022, according to new RAJARs. Radio 5 Live boosted its live audience to 5.57 milion with its news and sports content, including Formula 1 and 2022 FIFA World Cup. Radio 4 and its agenda-setting breakfast show, Today, gained audiences from last quarter as the station recorded over 10 million listeners.
In addition, on-demand listening of the BBC’s audio content continued to grow between October and December. BBC Sounds had a record 197.7 million plays for on-demand radio programmes, podcasts and music mixes, up 18.2 per cent from the same quarter last year. Topping the charts was Newscast, and the BBC’s Football titles, including Football Daily and Match of the Day: Top 10, were popular especially amongst younger audiences.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, commented: “Both our live and on-demand listening grew during this period dominated by a fast-paced news agenda, as people came to us for our trusted, high-quality coverage and in-depth analysis, and Radio 5 Live boosted its audiences with its world class sports coverage. Radio 2 and Radio 4 continue to be the biggest stations in the UK, and Radio 1 the favourite station of young listeners. Their breakfast shows are the most popular in the country, as the nation wakes up with BBC Radio. More and more people are also discovering great audio from the BBC on Sounds, wherever and whenever they want to, and we’ve seen record plays of our on-demand content. Newscast has truly secured its position as an essential daily listen as listeners come to us for high quality news and insightful analysis. People have also enjoyed content that matches their interests and entertains them, from our football titles to lifestyle shows and Radio 1’s Murder Mystery, and the brilliant storytelling in our investigative podcasts and interviews.”
According to new RAJAR figures for the final quarter of the year, capturing live listening only across all platforms, BBC Radio reached 33.23 million each week, with a share of 47.1 per cent.
- BBC Radio 1 had 8.62 million listeners aged 10+ and the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James (Mon-Fri) had 4.65 million 10+ listeners.
- BBC Radio 2 had 14.29 million listeners with 7.14 million tuning in for The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.
- BBC Radio 3 had 1.87 million listeners.
- BBC Radio 4 had 10.08 million listeners with 6.35 million tuning in for The Today programme (Mon-Sat).
- BBC Radio 5 Live posted a reach of 5.57 million listeners.
- BBC Radio 6 Music had 2.5 million listeners, BBC Radio 1Xtra had 756k, BBC Radio 4 Extra had 1.79 million, BBC 5 Sports Extra had 1.64k, and BBC Asian Network had 460k.
- The BBC World Service was listened to by 1.31 million people, and BBC Nations radio and Local BBC Radio in England had a combined audience of 7.78 million.
BBC Sounds had a record 417 million live and on-demand plays across radio, podcasts and music mixes between October and December last year. A record 193 million of them were on-demand.
There was a record 4.5 million average weekly users, peaking at a record 4.61 million during the week Liz Truss resigned.
- BBC Sounds Newscast was the most popular podcast overall and for listeners under 35 this quarter, following another busy news cycle.
- Desert Island Discs was the most listened to on-demand radio programme after The Archers, with festive castaways like Kirsty Young, Steven Spielberg and Cate Blanchett proving popular.
- Football titles continued to help drive younger listeners to BBC Sounds with Football Daily among the most popular on demand radio programmes and Match of the Day: Top 10 among the most listened to podcasts by listeners under 35.
- Lifestyle improvement podcasts like Sliced Bread and Michael Mosley’s new series Sleep Well both featured in the top 10 most listened to podcasts.
- Investigative podcasts continued to prove popular, with The Witch Farm, The Coming Storm and The Missing Cryptoqueen among the most listened to by all age groups.
- Listeners enjoyed hours of uninterrupted festive music shows as Christmas Sounds was the most popular music mix, contributing to a total of 4.7 million plays for all music mixes this quarter.
53 per cent of all plays on BBC Sounds last quarter came from live listeners compared to 47 per cent who listened on-demand.
On-Demand Radio Programmes
Desert Island Discs was the most popular on-demand radio programme after The Archers last quarter as its Christmas specials saw A-listers including Stephen Spielberg, Kirsty Young and Cate Blanchett joining Lauren Laverne’s castaways. New series The Boy In The Woods was the third most popular on-demand radio programme last quarter.
The Archers was also the most popular on-demand radio programme for listeners under 35, followed by Radio 1 Anthems, Radio 1’s Dance Anthems and Football Daily.
Audiences enjoyed Halloween specials as Radio 1’s Murder Mystery had the highest proportion of listeners under 35 last quarter. This was followed by Radio 1 Breakfast with Greg James and Kenny Allstar.
Podcasts on BBC Sounds
As headlines were dominated by Truss’ resignation and the ensuing leadership election, listeners were once again drawn to Newscast to make sense of the news and was the most popular podcast on BBC Sounds overall and for listeners under 35 this quarter.
With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar attracting a global audience, football podcasts helped drive younger listeners to BBC Sounds this quarter. Gary Lineker, Micah Richards and Alan Shearer brought the banter in episodes of Match of the Day: Top 10, which was the third most listened to podcast for under 35s and among the podcasts with the highest proportion of listeners under 35.
The Footballer’s Football podcast with star Premier League strikers Michail Antonio and Callum Wilson was also among the top ten podcasts with the highest proportion of listeners under 35.
Investigative series’ like Danny Robins’ The Witch Farm were among the most listened to podcasts last quarter, with listeners of all ages following the mysterious tale of the supernatural on BBC Sounds. Listeners also enjoyed new episodes of The Missing Cryptoqueen which gave updates on the hunt for Dr Ruja, both of which were in the top ten most listened to podcasts for all adults and for listeners under 35.
With the ongoing cost of living crisis, listeners were attracted to self-improvement podcasts. Sleep Well with Michael Mosley with simple but effective tips to improving our nocturnal habits and Sliced Bread which looks into the latest trends and fads, were both in the top ten most listened to podcasts last quarter.
Christmas Sounds brought the festive cheer this winter and was the most popular music mix this quarter, contributing to a total of 4.7 million plays for all music mixes between October and December last year.
Enduringly popular mixes The Sleeping Forecast, helping listeners drift off to sleep, and throwback bangers from Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton were the second and third most popular music mixes this quarter.
BBC podcasts and radio programmes on third party platforms
In total, there were 259 million global podcast downloads across the world between October and December 2022, with the Global News Podcast (BBC World Service), The Documentary Podcast (BBC World Service) and Newscast (BBC News) forming the top three most popular podcasts on BBC Sounds.