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Chris Evans sees his audience dip as Radio 2 tenure comes to an end

By | Published on Thursday 25 October 2018

Chris Evans & Zoe Ball

In the latest round of RAJAR listening figures for UK radio, Chris Evans – fresh from announcing his plans to leave BBC Radio 2 – has seen his audience slide by half a million year-on-year. Although, with 8.9 million weekly listeners, the show still remains the UK’s most popular breakfast show.

The dip in listeners – down from 9.4 million in the same three month period last year – coincides with an overall drop for Radio 2. Indeed, the station has seen weekly listener numbers drop to their lowest level for six years – falling to 14.6 million, compared to 15.4 million last year. Like Evans, though, it still remains the most popular in the UK.

“I’m proud that BBC Radio 2 remains the most listened to radio station in the UK, with 14.64 million listeners each week”, says Head Of Radio 2 Lewis Carnie, pleased to have something to brag about despite the declines.

Most of the period covered by the latest RAJARS – July to September – was over before Evans announced his decision to leave Radio 2 to join Virgin Radio, so the dip can’t really be attributed to that. The next two quarters will be closely scrutinised, though, before Evans broadcasts his final show for the BBC station at the end of the year and Zoe Ball takes over the slot in January.

The pressure to maintain that top-of-the-table position will be stronger for Radio 2 and Ball. While Evans is clearly being brought in at Virgin Radio to boost its listener numbers, the station is currently pulling in just above 400,000 (and is also down nearly 150,000 on the same period last year). There will be hopes that he can bring some of those Radio 2 listeners with him, but I don’t think anyone is expecting them to shift in their millions.

Over on BBC Radio 1, the breakfast show there pretty much maintained its audience, despite a switch in presenters from Nick Grimshaw to Greg James midway though the quarter. As well as the change in presenter, Radio 1 has also reduced the main breakfast show to Monday to Thursday, extending the weekend schedule into Friday.

Although not challenging either of those stations in terms of overall numbers, various other breakfast shows saw a boost in listeners during the last quarter, including BBC Radio 5 Live, Absolute Radio, and Radio X.

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