The Archers attracted a record number of listeners in the first quarter of 2011.

The most recent report from RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) has just been published, covering January to March. The average 'weekly reach' of the lunchtime episode was 2.49 million, and of the programme overall 5.01 million. This means that in a average week in that quarter, over 5 million people listened to The Archers at some time in the week.

These are the highest figures for The Archers since the current system of measurement was introduced in 1996. They are for over-15s in the UK and do not include listening via podcast and online via Radioplayer (formerly iPlayer), so the actual total audience will be even higher.

RAJAR also reported record listening figures for BBC Radio 4 overall, whose weekly reach was 10.8 million.

(The original version of this post incorrectly quoted the weekly reach as 5.1 million. Corrected with our apologies 19 May.)

(Further clarification 14 June: The lunchtime listening figure of 2.49 million is a record, not the the weekly reach of 5.01 million. Thanks to the listeners who queried this.)

Keri Davies is an Archers (and Ambridge Extra) scriptwriter and web producer.

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  • Comment number 30. Posted by Keri Davies

    on 23 Sept 2011 12:56

    >How is it current RAJAR figures are claimed as a record when two decades ago, TA racked up over 8 million?

    It's not for me to cast aspersions on previous managements, but that figure was rather misleading. It was actually the total 'acts of listening' in a week, rather than the number of individual listeners.

    The current RAJAR figure counts individuals, who may of course listen more than once in a week. But they are still counted as just one listener.

  • Comment number 29. Posted by DracoM1

    on 23 Sept 2011 09:25

    How is it current RAJAR figures are claimed as a record when two decades ago, TA racked up over 8 million?

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  • Comment number 28. Posted by fondantfancee

    on 20 Aug 2011 20:55

    Whistling into the wind Prospero!

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  • Comment number 27. Posted by Prospero

    on 8 Aug 2011 14:22

    I'd still like to know what the figures are for the 15 minutes from 10:30 to 10:45 on a Sunday morning, compared to how they were in previous quarters.

    If you closed the village shop and turned it into a McDonalds you could probably produce a massive increase in turnover and profit for the premises. Would it be a good or wise thing to do? Discuss. . . .

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  • Comment number 26. Posted by Russ

    on 5 Aug 2011 09:55

    The Telegraph reports a new TA reach record of 5.08m.

    Russ

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  • Comment number 25. Posted by Russ

    on 4 Aug 2011 11:08

    Hmmm - stand by yer bunks for another potential 'TA records broken' announcement - the Q2 RAJARs are now in, and show another healthy (small but steady) increase in the R4 figures. (Reach up 0.2%, and total hours up 2.2%, compared to the previous quarter.) The big news though is the astonishing figures for R4X, so the main PR might focus could be on Ambridge Extra. Oh dear.

    Russ

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  • Comment number 24. Posted by Miss in vest a gaiter

    on 17 Jul 2011 21:24

    Please note. The BBC decided to change the wording from; 'Celebrating 60 years' to 'Anniversary'. I feel it is very important not to go down that path with them. Do you not remember why they changed it? It was due to an awful lot of us exlovers of the Archers complaining about VW killing off the lovely Nigel..... Also it is important to remember a number of our messages were not printed due to not liking to hear the truth. It might have been a better idea for Liz to have got caught up in the banner and disappeared into the night.... For Goodness sake writers and all. Give us back are county folk and leave the rest for EastEnders.

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  • Comment number 23. Posted by invisiblepuddle

    on 14 Jul 2011 15:33

    Hi Russ. Yes, while I agree that the RAJAR figures are not the whole story, I don’t think that it is wise to use the listen again or podcast figures as anything other than a trend. If I downloaded each daily podcast plus the omnibus I’d be counted 7 times a week wouldn’t I? And if I listened to 5 minutes of an episode as it was broadcast I would already be counted once anyway.

    Regarding the accuracy of the RAJAR figures -- I think if I left the room when TA started and returned when it finished I wouldn’t tick the box anyway. I take your point though, it is easy to have radio on in the background without necessarily listening to it. Also it is the case that a person who listens to just 5 minutes of one episode in a week is given exactly the same weighting as a person who listens every evening plus every lunchtime plus the omnibus (plus listen again, plus podcasts ….).

    The ‘reach’ for Q1 must be disappointing in view of all the 60th anniversary hype. Doesn't the record lunchtime number just mean fewer evening listeners? Or are we to suppose that more of the evening listeners also listened to the lunchtime repeat?
    Ah well, Q2 numbers out on Aug 4th.

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  • Comment number 22. Posted by Russ

    on 14 Jul 2011 11:14

    That is certainly true, invisiblepuddle, and it's impossible to quantify the duplication in the reach figures, the other big 'unknown' in the figures arising of course from the fact that the 19 00 programme is repeated the following day at 14 00, and my guesstimates for reach in comment #19 should therefore be regarded as being on the overgenerous side - I merely wanted to point out that the RAJAR live figures show only part of the picture, albeit a majority part. That said, it does all rather depend on how much faith one has in the RAJAR methodology in the first place, and I think this is somewhat problematic for a 15-minute programme anyway, e.g. those who come in from work and switch on wanting to get the 19 00 news bulletin, leave the radio on while they make a cup of tea, and return to settle down for Front Row. That counts as a RAJAR tick for TA, even though the TA programme itself might not have been 'listened to' at all. Listen Again and podcast figures are more indicative of an intention to listen to the whole programme.

    RAJAR figures for an individual quarter have to regarded with a degree of circumspection, and it's always amusing to see the BBC make such a song and dance about them, as they've chosen to do here on this blog, particularly when they're not sure which figures they are supposed to be getting excited about. The trends in the figures tell a more significant story.

    Russ

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by invisiblepuddle

    on 13 Jul 2011 11:04

    .... Except that anyone who listens by any combination of live/listen again/podcast will be included multiple times in those figures.

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