Radio 4 Extra breaks record to become UK’s biggest digital-only station

Radio 4 Extra – Radio 4’s sister station - has posted its biggest ever audience to become the largest digital-only station in the UK, according to data published by RAJAR.

Published: 21 May 2015
Radio 4 Extra was once a hidden gem in the BBC Radio portfolio. I’m delighted it has now been discovered by record numbers of listeners who are enjoying its unique blend of speech programmes, old and new.
— Helen Boaden, Director, BBC Radio

The network - which broadcasts classic comedy and drama alongside new speech programmes – added half a million listeners to achieve a weekly reach of 2.17 million (1.72m last quarter and 1.66m last year) in a quarter that saw it broadcast a range of archive classics like Dad’s Army, Morecambe And Wise and Hancock’s Half Hour alongside new programmes like TED Radio Hour, Comedy Club and Newsjack.

Elsewhere in digital-only stations, 5 live sports extra achieved its second highest ever listener figures, thanks in large part to the popularity of the cricket world cup. It had 1.32 million weekly listeners in the quarter – up on 657,000 last quarter and 817,000 last year, and the station's highest reach outside an Ashes series. Meanwhile, Radio 6 Music maintained its audience with 2.06 million people tuning in each week (from 2.08m last quarter and 1.93m last year).

Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said: “Radio 4 Extra was once a hidden gem in the BBC Radio portfolio. I’m delighted it has now been discovered by record numbers of listeners who are enjoying its unique blend of speech programmes, old and new. Our digital-only networks are coming of age and complementing our traditional stations in bringing distinctive content to a wide audience.”

All BBC Radio’s weekly reach over the period (5 January to 5 April) was 34.87 million (34.80m last quarter and 35.31m last year) and a share of 54.4% (52.8% last quarter and 54.9% last year).

Radio 1 attracted 9.70 million listeners - 10.57m when listeners aged 10 to 14 are included - during the period, down from 10.43m last quarter and 10.53m last year after losing nearly half a million listeners aged 30 and over. The station’s share was 6.4% (6.6% last quarter and 6.7% last year). The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw registered a weekly audience of 5.50 million – from 5.91m last quarter and 5.85m last year - with nearly 90% of that change coming from listeners over 30.

Radio 2’s weekly audience was 15.09 million, from 15.28m last quarter and 15.57m last year, while the station’s share of listening was 18.1% (17.8% last quarter and 17.9% last year). The Chris Evans Breakfast Show attracted 9.46 million listeners per week – compared to 9.60m last quarter and a record 9.83m last year.

Radio 3’s audience was 2.08 million (from 2.03m last quarter and 2.09m last year) and its share was 1.2%, (1.1% last quarter and 1.3% last year).

Radio 4 posted a weekly reach of 10.89 million during the quarter (10.76m last quarter and 10.95m last year) and a share of 12.8% (11.9% last quarter and 12.2% last year). The Today programme has 7.06 million listeners each week, from 6.77m last quarter and 7.06m last year.

BBC Radio 5 live posted a reach of 5.76 million listeners (5.61m last quarter and 6.17m last year) and a share of 3.7% (3.5% last quarter and 4.1% last year).

Among the other digital-only stations, Radio 1Xtra had a reach of 839,000 weekly listeners across the period (from 1.11m last quarter and 1.10m last year) and the Asian Network drew 562,000 listeners, reporting on a six-monthly basis, compared to 619,000 last quarter.

The BBC World Service posted a weekly UK audience of 1.35 million (from 1.36m last quarter and 1.30m last year), ahead of the publication of the BBC’s global audience figures on Thursday 21 May.

BBC Local/Regional radio reached 8.82 million listeners per week - from 8.98m last quarter and 9.26m last year.

For Further Information, please contact

Radio 1 and 1Xtra - PC
Radio 2, 6 Music and Asian Network – KA
Radio 3 – AH
Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra – LZ
Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra – DH2