BBC 6 Music leads digital stations in Rajar report

Lauren Laverne of 6 Music Former pop star Lauren Laverne is one of 6 Music's regular presenters

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BBC 6 Music has overtaken Radio 4 Extra to become the leading digital-only station, Rajar audience figures show.

The music station now has 1.9 million listeners a week - up 31% on last year.

Chris Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show added just under 1m listeners in a year, bringing its total early morning audience to 9.5m.

Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw, who replaced Chris Moyles in September, failed to reverse the downward trend of listeners to the station's breakfast show.

Figures show "Grimmy" pulled in 6.69m listeners in the three months up to 16 December - down from 6.73m in the previous quarter.

Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said the figures "exceeded [his] expectation" for a brand new breakfast show.

"This has been the biggest schedule change in a generation, which has resulted in the station's audience getting younger," he said.

Boost for Radio 2

Overall Radio 1 suffered a drop in listeners to 11.09m a week, compared with 11.19m in the previous quarter and 11.66m in the last three months of 2011.

You would expect the controller of Radio 1 to put the best face on figures showing that his new breakfast host Nick Grimshaw has failed to halt the decline in the programme's audience.

Ben Cooper says he's "delighted" with the station's result - even though the Press Association reported that it was the breakfast show's lowest audience for seven years. This is not as contrary as it might seem. Cooper was specifically asked by the BBC Trust, which regulates the Corporation, to find a younger audience for Radio 1.

Grimshaw has added almost a quarter of a million 15-24 year-old listeners to the breakfast slot and the average age of the station has dropped to 32, from 33 in the last quarter. It seems some older listeners have switched to Chris Evans on Radio 2, helping that network attract a record audience of over 15 million listeners a week.

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show helped Radio 2 boost its weekly audience to 15.1m. The station added 1.2m listeners between October and December and 842,000 on the same period in 2011 - a 5.9% increase.

Just over 7m people tuned into Radio 4's breakfast programme, Today, representing a rise of 113,000 on the previous quarter.

But the station's weekly audience fell to 10.75m, compared with 10.84m in the previous quarter and 10.83m in the last three months of the previous year.

Meanwhile Radio 5 Live, the BBC's home of sport, added 26,000 to bring its weekly audience figures to 6.12m - down on last year's 6.22m.

Digital radio now accounts for a third of all listening. Figures are up 14% on last year, helped by better access to DAB receivers.

Nick Grimshaw Nick Grimshaw took over from Chris Moyles in September

All digital stations have increased their weekly audiences year-on-year, though several stations lost listeners in the last three months of 2012.

BBC Radio 4 Extra's weekly audience dropped from 1.69m to 1.68m, while Radio 1's sister station 1Xtra showed a loss of 70,000 listeners over the quarter.

BBC Asian Network also suffered a loss from 584,000 between July and September to 453,000 between October and December.

The largest commercial digital station was Smash Hits with almost 1 million listeners, while Smooth 70s performed well by reaching more than 700,000 listeners.

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said he was "delighted" with the results.

"Digital radio continues to transform the way people listen to the radio and one third of all listening to digital platforms represents an important milestone," he said.

Local radio

Figures for BBC local radio in England showed an increase of 209,000 listeners a week to 6.9m. However, this was a reduction on last year's 7.3m.

David Holdsworth, controller of English Regions, said: "It's good to see listeners continue to value the journalism, debate and interaction with local life offered by BBC Local Radio."

Heart is the UK's most popular commercial station with 7.36m listeners - up 23,000 on the previous quarter but down 1m on last year.

Among London listeners, Capital FM's breakfast show - hosted by Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon - remains the most popular early morning programme on commercial radio with 1.08m listeners.

In the last three months of 2012, however, it saw its weekly audience drop by 80,000 to 1.08m.

In the last three months of 2011 the programme had 1.31m listeners.

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