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BBC Radio 4 Extra comes top as digital radio audiences grow

BBC Radio 4 Extra surges ahead in listening figures
Digital radio listening has overtaken analogue radio in London for the first time as digital radio audiences reach new highs, according to the latest radio audience figures.

BBC Radio 4 Extra has overtaken BBC Radio 6 Music in being the most popular digital radio station. BBC Radio 4 Extra now boasts 2.17 million listeners - a 31% jump, with 2.06 million listeners tuning in to second-place BBC Radio 6 Music, although 6 Music kept the top spot in terms of listening hours.

Audience figures published by RAJAR for the first three months of 2015 showed a strong surge in digital listening to almost 40% (39.6%), which means that share is up 8.2% year on year.

The driving force behind the digital growth is the strong shift to digital listening across dual transmission stations and the growth of digital only stations. Digital listening has increased to 40.7% on BBC stations and to 38% on commercial stations. On national stations digital listening is 43.6% on BBC and 63% on commercial radio.

The leading dual transmission stations for digital listening are BBC World Service* (75%), Absolute Radio (59%), Kiss (52%), Gold (49%), BBC Radio 5 live (47%) and BBC Radio 3 (45%).

Bauer digital stations Absolute Radio 80s, Planet Rock and Kisstory all recorded record reach levels with 1.45 million, 1.24 million and 1.13 million listeners respectively.

Overall analogue listening declined to 54.3% (down 6.5%) and in-home analogue listening to 44.2% (down 6.2%), vs in home digital listening at 47.1% (up 4.6%).

Predictably the digital radio industry was pleased with the latest set of figures. Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, responded:
“The surge of digital listening to almost 40% share is a landmark moment for digital radio, and shows the achievability of the 50% listening criterion set by Government for a radio switchover. In the UK we are changing the way we listen to radio and you can see the shift to digital listening across dual transmission and digital stations. In London and in homes across the UK, listeners are choosing to listen to more radio on digital than on AM/FM, which demonstrates that radio’s future is definitely digital.”
Among the other BBC digital-only stations, Radio 1Xtra and Asian Network lost listeners: 1Xtra had a reach of 839,000 weekly listeners across the period (down from 1.11m last quarter and 1.10m last year) and the Asian Network drew 562,000 listeners, reporting on a six-monthly basis, compared to 619,000 last quarter.

The BBC World Service posted a weekly UK audience of 1.35 million (from 1.36m last quarter and 1.30m last year), ahead of the publication of the BBC’s global audience figures on Thursday 21 May.

Digital vs Analogue at home
Analogue radio - at home
Digital radio - at home
RAJAR/Digital Radio UK. Includes all digital platforms.

DAB audience share (in-car and at home)
Oct-Dec 2014
Jan-Mar 2015
RAJAR/Digital Radio UK. 
Internet / Apps accounts for a further 6.8% share of listening via digital platforms (Jan-Mar 2015).

*BBC World Service is only available on analogue radio in the UK during overnight hours.


  1. I'd like to see what percentage of radio listening in cars is on analogue radio. But I suspect it is not reported because it is inconveniently high and may be an obstacle to switchover. So they brush it under the carpet.

    1. Just for you (and everyone else reading this!!!): 16% of listening hours by car - 52% increase year-on-year.


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