BBC 6 Music hits record-breaking audience with nearly two million listeners

Digital radio station gets boost as Radio 1 and Radio 2 lose out

BBC 6 Music has reached a record weekly high of nearly two million listeners new figures reveal.

The station’s audience grew to 1.99 million from 1.73 million a year ago, with Lauren Laverne drawing an audience of 868,000 listeners per week, making her the network’s most popular presenter.

The figures also show that 27 per cent of 6 Music listeners tune in via online, smartphone and tablet apps, marking the first time a UK station has pulled in more than a quarter of its audience in this way.

Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see 6 Music flourishing and one of our roster of outstanding female presenters leading the charge. The station offers something completely distinctive and Lauren’s show is a case study in engaging and intelligent music radio.”

The figures, released by Rajar, meanwhile show Radio 2 losing nearly half a million listeners on the previous quarter. Radio 2 breakfast show presenter Chris Evans, who has the UK’s biggest show, lost 600,000 listeners in the space of thee months leaving him with an audience of 9.3 million.

Radio 1 also lost almost a quarter of a million listeners, with rival Nick Grimshaw’s audience down to 5.82 million compared to 5.97 million last quarter. Radio 1’s age problem continues to persist, as the average age of Grimshaw’s audience remains at 33.7, despite efforts to refocus on its target audience of 15 to 24-year-olds.

Ben Cooper, the Radio 1 controller, came to the defence of his station. He said: “As Radio 1 continues to lead the industry in becoming a multi-platform youth brand, which recently passed 1.6 million YouTube subscribers, these figures only tell part of the story. I’m very pleased that in the traditionally difficult summer quarter, the Radio 1 Breakfast Show has 240,000 new listeners in the year.”

BBC 6 Music was under threat of closure by the BBC four years ago, when it had an audience of 695,000. But, thanks to an online petition that saved it, and the consequent boost in profile, it now has its biggest ever reach. It has more listeners than Radio 3 – which has a weekly audience of 1.91 million – leading MP Tom Watson to suggest earlier this month that Radio 3 should give up its FM slot to 6 Music.

Digital radio listening has grown by six per cent to a record high of almost 38 percent. Other BBC digital radio networks gained listeners over the summer, including 5 Live Sports Extra, Asian Network, 1Xtra and Radio 4 Extra. Furthermore, Absolute Radio 80s, the largest commercial digital-only station, grew by 18 per cent to a new record of 1.43 million listeners.