BBC Radio sees incredible quarter for classical music and live sport

With listener increases for Radio 3, 5 Live and a record 602 million plays on BBC Sounds

Overall BBC Radio reached 31.7 million people each week for live output across the stations, with a share of 44%, highlighting how much audiences value live radio to inform, educate and entertain


BBC Sounds

Classical music and live sport kept BBC listeners entertained over the summer of Q3, there was a boost for speech with increases for both Radio 4 and 5 Live while Radio 2 continues to be the nation’s favourite radio station.

Overall BBC Radio reached 31.7 million people each week for live output across the stations, with a share of 44%, highlighting how much audiences value live radio to inform, educate and entertain.

5 Sports Extra has delivered a stand-out performance with an increase of 61% on the quarter (28% YoY) with coverage of The Ashes, Wimbledon and the Women’s World Cup reaching 2.2milion listeners.

The Proms were a big hit for BBC Radio 3 which continues to champion live classical music, launching the First Night of the Proms with an all-day outside broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall.

Radio 4 and 5 Live buck the speech radio trend with increased listeners for both networks including an uplift for The Today Programme and 5 Live Breakfast.

The BBC’s digital offering to audiences has grown significantly, with a record 602 million plays on BBC Sounds. Twenty per-cent (1 in 5) of the UK population (15+) now listen to podcasts each week and BBC Sounds is expertly placed to provide high quality content across every genre, with Newscast being the most listened to podcast on the platform, and exciting new Radio 4 series’ including The Banksy Story and Call Jonathan Pie among the top ten.

Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, says: “Radio 2 continues to be the country’s most popular station and I’m delighted with the flying start Vernon Kay has made to mid-mornings as the UK’s biggest radio show, bringing his warmth, energy and charisma to listeners up and down the country.

“We’ve had an incredible summer of music and sport with record breaking figures at the Proms reflected by Radio 3 reaching over 2 million listeners with their unique commitment to live classical broadcasts.

“The Ashes, Wimbledon, the Women’s World Cup boosted 5 Sports Extra significantly as well as delivering for 5 Live and BBC Sounds.

“Speech radio continues to thrive with a strong linear showing. There were over 600 million plays on BBC Sounds for all content – a new record and an incredible achievement for a platform we launched only five years ago. Our digital offer for audiences continues to go from strength to strength, delivering standout live and on-demand content for listeners, wherever and whenever they need it.”


According to new RAJAR figures for the third quarter of 2023, capturing live listening only across all platforms, BBC Radio reached 31.7 million each week, with a share of 44%.

• BBC Radio 1 had 8.4m listeners aged 10+ and the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James (Mon-Fri) had 4.24m 10+ listeners.

• BBC Radio 2 had 13.5m listeners with 6.5m tuning in for The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. Vernon Kay has the biggest UK radio show with 6.9m listeners.

• BBC Radio 3 had 2m listeners.

• BBC Radio 4 had 9.3m listeners with 5.7m tuning in for The Today programme (Mon-Sat).

• BBC Radio 5 Live posted a reach of 5.6m listeners. 5 Live Breakfast had 1.4m listeners.
• BBC Radio 6 Music had 2.8m listeners and remains the biggest digital-only network in the UK. The 6 Music Breakfast Show with Lauren Laverne had 1.4m listeners.

• BBC Radio 1Xtra had 644k, BBC Radio 4 Extra had 1.5m, BBC 5 Sports Extra had 2.2m, and BBC Asian Network had 462k.

• The BBC World Service was listened to by 940k people.

• BBC Nations radio and Local BBC Radio in England had a combined audience of 7.3m.

BBC Sounds

Listeners tuning into flagship live radio programmes The Today Programme, The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show and Vernon Kay contributed to a record 602 million plays of all content across radio, podcasts and music mixes on BBC Sounds, between July and September.

Data shows there was an average weekly audience of 4.8 million on BBC Sounds this quarter, with a peak of 4.9 million weekly users tuning into our expert live coverage during the week England won the third Ashes test match at Headingly, and Radio 2 announced their summer of music led by Blur live in concert at the BBC.

There was also a record 226 million plays of on demand radio and podcasts this quarter, and 3.7 million plays for music mixes on BBC Sounds.

• With the dramatic return of Rob to Ambridge, The Archers was the most popular on demand radio programme for all adults this quarter, followed by Whodunnits and Desert Island Discs.

• Greg James had younger audiences hooked with Radio 1’s Giant DJ Hunt landing the third highest proportion of listeners under 35, after Radio 1 00s and the Radio 1 Breakfast Show.

• During another busy news cycle Newscast was the most popular podcast for all adults and for listeners under 35, with Americast also among the top ten.

• Innovative new series’ including The Banksy Story, Call Jonathan Pie, Yeti, The Crossbow Killer and Intrigue: The Immortals were among the top ten most listened to podcasts.

• With the start of a new season, football titles helped drive younger listeners on BBC Sounds with Match Of The Day Top 10 one of the most popular podcasts for listeners under 35 and new strand The Players Channel was among the podcasts with the highest proportion of listeners under 35.

• The Sleeping Forecast was the most listened to music mix on BBC Sounds this quarter, followed by Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton and Mindful Mix

• There was a total of 226 million downloads for BBC podcasts around the world this quarter, with The Global News Podcast the most popular on third party platforms

Notes to Editors

Methodology change

Please note that all RAJAR listening figures from Q3 2021 onwards have been calculated using a modified survey methodology and this should be considered when making comparisons against historical data.

Source BBC Sounds

October 27, 2023 3:00am ET by Pressparty  


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