Record listening figures during ‘lockdown’ months with Louis Theroux’s podcast the biggest hit on BBC Sounds

Grounded with Louis Theroux was the most popular podcast during a record period between April-June 2020, which saw 313 million plays of all content on BBC Sounds across radio, podcasts and music mixes.

Published: 7 August 2020
I’m really glad we’ve been able to give listeners some real treats to enjoy such as Louis Theroux’s brilliant first podcast, hours and hours of Glastonbury and Big Weekend sets and more ways for fans to indulge in drama hits such as Normal People.
— Jonathan Wall
  • Other top podcasts include That Peter Crouch Podcast, The Coronavirus Newscast, Match of the Day: Top 10 and Fortunately with… Fi and Jane
  • Podcasts which attract a higher proportion of under 35 listeners include Mandemic, The Gemma Collins Podcast, James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds and Scarlett Moffatt Wants to Believe with 6 Degrees from Jamie and Spencer topping the list
  • The huge popularity of Normal People was reflected in audio too - it was the Normal People series which put our TV companion podcast Obsessed With… into the top ten and Normal People The Soundtrack was one of our most listened to music mixes too
  • BBC Sounds saw a huge 1.4m increase - double previous quarter - in music mix plays with Radio 1’s Big Weekend UK 2020 and Glastonbury keeping listeners entertained at home during what should have been festival season

New data for Q2 2020 shows an average audience of 3.4 million weekly users across the app, website and voice activated devices. There was a record 136 million plays of on-demand radio programmes and podcasts in this quarter, up 13 million on last quarter, and 2.7 million plays of music mixes, a 1.4m increase and over double the previous quarter.

Many listen to our radio stations on BBC Sounds with 55 percent of overall plays and 65 percent of all listening hours being for live content on BBC Sounds.

Jonathan Wall, Controller of BBC Sounds, says: “The extraordinary circumstances of these months during lockdown and the disruption to people’s lives is reflected in these latest figures and the most popular content. I’m really glad we’ve been able to give listeners some real treats to enjoy such as Louis Theroux’s brilliant first podcast, hours and hours of Glastonbury and Big Weekend sets and more ways for fans to indulge in drama hits such as Normal People.” 

On-Demand Radio Programmes

As with the previous quarter, Radio 1’s Dance Anthems continued to be the most popular on-demand radio programme with under 35s with BBC Radio 1 Anthems, Elis James and John Robins and Desert Island Discs also on the list. 

The Archers topped the chart for all audiences overall.

This quarter, 1Xtra’s Snoochie Shy comes out on top with the highest proportion of under 35 listeners for on-demand radio programmes.

Music Mixes 

During Q2 there were 2.7 million plays of music mixes on BBC Sounds, over double the amount of plays compared to the previous quarter. Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton came out on top during this period, while Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Glastonbury were second and third on the list with their ‘at home festival’ experience attracting many listeners.

Podcasts 

Grounded with Louis Theroux was the most listened to podcast this quarter, proving popular with listeners as the documentary giant tried his hand at podcasting by interviewing the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Lenny Henry, Boy George, KSI and Miriam Margolyes. 

Other new titles that launched during this quarter/at the end of last that are amongst some of the most popular include: Match of the Day: Top 10, Bitch Bitch Bitch with Matt Lucas and Homeschool History.

That Peter Crouch Podcast and Match of the Day: Top 10 are first and second most listened to podcasts for under 35s.

Continuing titles that remain huge hits for all adults and for under 35s include You’re Dead to Me, Tailenders and Evil Genius with Russell Kane.

The TV companion series Obsessed With… continued to be popular, with the majority of listeners this quarter enjoying the Normal People podcast - demonstrating with both the success of Normal People The Soundtrack and Obsessed With… Normal People podcast on BBC Sounds, people couldn’t get enough of the hit series this summer.

BBC podcasts and radio programmes on other platforms

In total there were over 240 million global podcast downloads across the world during this quarter, an increase in 10 million from last quarter.

The Global News Podcast (BBC World Service), The Documentary Podcast (BBC World Service) and In Our Time (Radio 4) continue to be the most popular three titles.

Download the BBC Sounds Q2 report.

CB