Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show loses a million listeners after Chris Evans’ departure

‘I do take it completely to heart’

Annie Lord
Friday 15 May 2020 08:32
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'The big day is finally here!' Zoe Ball kicks off breakfast show role

BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show has gone from 9.1 million to 8.1 million listeners, since Zoe Ball replaced Chris Evans as presenter,

Evans broadcast his final Radio 2 show on Christmas Eve in 2018. His rival digital-only Virgin Radio show has grown by 1.12 million, according to radio industry body Rajar.

In an interview with Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in February, Ball admitted that she takes the issue of listening figures personally.

“You kind of pretend it is not, but then the listening figures come in and your face is ‘on the tin’, so I do take it completely to heart," she said.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme lost 191,000 listeners in the first three months of this year compared with the final quarter of 2019, Rajar reports.

The morning show went from 6.97 million listeners a week to 7.17 million.

The show had added hundreds of thousands of listeners in the last quarter of 2019, helped by interest in the general election campaign.

BBC Radio 1 managed to increase its audience by more than 100,000 a week to 8.9 million at the end of March.

The BBC says Radio 1 still remains relevant to a youth audience even as streaming services become more popular. They pointed out that 24 is being the most common age of a listener and that its YouTube and Vevo channels attracted more than 2 million views a day.

“Radio is such an important part of British life,” said Aled Haydn Jones, head of programmes for BBC Radio 1. “We are able to be creative in the ways we innovate for our audience, wherever they may be.”

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The figures show the increasing popularity of online listening, most notably on smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Online listening stood at 14 per cent of all listening in the first quarter, some 138 million hours. This represented a rise of more than a fifth year on year.

For LBC, audience numbers rose by 2.2 per cent to 2.78 million, which the station said represented a 47-year high, although its London audience fell by 6.2 per cent quarter on quarter.

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