RAJAR analysis: Q2 figures mark first year of new radio ratings system - who's up and who's down?

RAJAR analysis: Q2 figures mark first year of new radio ratings system - who's up and who's down?

The new RAJAR system has now been running for a full year and the Q2 listening figures are out today.

We still have another quarter to wait until we can provide year-on-year comparisons under the new methodology for the listening figures

Read on for our Q2 RAJAR analysis for the period until June 26…


BBC Radio 6 Music goes from strength to strength in the RAJARs. The alternative music network staged its 6 Music Festival in Q1, and has maintained the success of that quarter’s ‘record’ result (remember this is a new methodology, so it’s impossible to compare this to past results). The station’s comprehensive Glastonbury coverage likely helped ratings in the latest quarter. Lauren Laverne had her best result at breakfast under the new system with 1.49m listeners.

Despite our caution in relation to the new system, it’s been clear for some time that 6 Music is on the up, so the digital station’s latest Q2 result of 2.85 million weekly listeners (up 0.1% on the prior quarter) is a sign that station head Samantha Moy’s strategy of supporting a wide range of genres on air is working. 6 Music has average hours of 9.9 per listener, which is among the highest for BBC stations (only Radio 2 and Radio 4 are higher). 

Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, said: “It’s wonderful to see again the special place 6 Music and Lauren’s show has for loyal listeners. Whether it’s music or sport, we know how much these digital stations mean to their audiences, whilst millions of people listen across our live networks for the company and quality of all our brilliant presenters and programming. We’re also seeing more people listen to audio on BBC Sounds, as listening habits continue to change and audiences are increasingly enjoying our podcasts and other on-demand audio.”

Radio 1, which triumphed at the Music Week Awards, dips 2.6% on the prior quarter to 7.475m. The station's preferred ratings measurement counts younger listeners who aren’t covered in the main RAJAR figures. Greg James’ Breakfast Show, now on five days a week, was up slightly at 4.135m.

Radio 1 is the No.1 station and has the No.1 breakfast show for listeners aged 15-29.

Aled Haydn Jones, head of BBC Radio 1, said: “I’m so pleased to see an increase in listeners for Radio 1’s Breakfast Show with Greg James, as well as it remaining No.1 for our audience. It’s good to see the strategy we’ve developed at Radio 1 is working, indicating the strong connection the station has with young people across the UK on Radio, YouTube, iPlayer and socials.”

BBC Radio 2 remains, of course, the nation’s favourite station with an unchanged 14.53m weekly listeners - almost double Radio 1’s result - and an average 10.7 hours per week for its loyal listeners. Zoe Ball’s Breakfast Show was fairly steady at 7.274m - still a huge audience even if it's down almost two million since she started (with the caveat, of course, that this is a new measurement system). Chris Evans, her Radio 2 predecessor, is on 869,000 for his Virgin Radio breakfast show (down from 1m in last available figures for Virgin in Q4); Virgin Radio has a weekly reach of 1.44m (1.62m six months ago).

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 1Xtra was static in Q2 (749,000), Radio 3 was steady (2.02m) and Asian Network lost 6.3% of its audience in three months (473,000).


Mixed results for the media giant this quarter, although it still claims the top three commercial radio brands (Heart, Capital and Smooth).

Comparing results to the prior quarter, Capital Network was down 6.6% (5.669m), Classic FM was off 3.7% (4.968m), and Heart was hurting with the loss of 8.6% of its weekly listeners (now at 7.766m). 

Even Radio X, a traditionally strong performer, was off 1.9% with an audience in Q2 of 1.898m. Nevertheless, the indie music station matched 6 Music with 9.9 average hours per listener. Chris Moyles was solid at breakfast with 1.084m.

Capital Xtra was a strong performer for Global this quarter with ratings of 1.367m (up 4.8%). Presenter Robert Bruce (pictured) won the Radio Show trophy at the Music Week Awards.

Global also leads the way for commercial stations at breakfast with the No.1 show (Roman Kemp on Capital - steady at 2.457m) and No.2 (Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden on Heart at 3.704m - down 160,000).

Capital Dance may have peaked after a run of RAJARs success. The station, which launched during lockdown in 2020, was down 1.4% on the prior month at 789,000. But it’s still an impressive result for a network that’s not even two years old.

Other brand extensions performed well, too, for Global. Heart 70s soared by 31.3% to 575,000, while Heart 90s was up 10.2% at 874,000. Going in the other direction, Heart 80s was down 6% but still boasts 1.325m listeners. Smooth Radio Country is on 336,000 (up 7.7%).

Ashley Tabor-King, founder & executive president of Global, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the millions of people who tune in and are spending a record amount of time with our brands. It’s testament to the fantastic creative and innovative Global family, who deliver their very best work every single day, always putting audiences at the heart of what they do.”

James Rea, director of broadcasting & content at Global, said: “I’m delighted to see Global delivering its highest ever market share and record hours, with more than 25 million people listening to our brands every single week. It’s great to see Global has the top three brands in British radio with Heart, Capital and Smooth. I’m incredibly proud of the teams across the UK whose energy and expertise continues to drive our success.”


Like its commercial rival, Bauer has been building up its stable of era-based brand extensions. Absolute Radio 60s is the big winner this quarter (up 16.3% to 164,000), along with Absolute Radio 00s (up 13.8% to 182,000)

Absolute Radio Country is, like its Global rival Smooth Radio Country, well up on the previous quarter (274,009 - a 29.2% increase on the prior quarter), so it’s seemingly not a zero-sum game for those genre fans (and many more will be listening to Radio 2, which has long championed country artists).

Meanwhile, Absolute Radio is up 1.8% to 2.222m. The Dave Berry Breakfast Show (2.174m) is still one of the frontrunners for Absolute. Kiss’ breakfast show with Jordan & Perri is also stable at 1.049m listeners.

The main Kiss station is on 2.5m (up 9.3%), while Kiss Fresh was up 4.2% to 301,000 and Kisstory was down 4% at 2.118m. 

Hits Radio Network was up 7.8% to 6.25m, although Greatest Hits Radio slipped back 5.6% to 3.641m.

Jazz FM had a good quarter (up 16.2% to 530,000), but rock didn’t fare so well. Kerrang! slumped by 20.9% to 353,000, while Planet Rock was down 5.9% to 1.237m. Planet Rock does have impressive average hours per listener of 9.1.

Dee Ford, group MD, Bauer Media Audio UK, said: “There has never been a more exciting time to be in radio. Our strategy has been to actively encourage digital listening by delivering content across channels that our listeners can access however they want. The growth in listening via smart speakers and smart phones means we can offer more creative content to delight our listeners and more innovative solutions for our commercial partners.”

Ben Cooper, chief content and music officer, Bauer Media Audio UK, added: “The good times continue to sound like this with today’s great story of an all-time record high for the Hits Radio Brand, with more listeners than ever before tuning in. Congratulations also go to the award-winning Dave Berry Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio and Jordan & Perri on Kiss Breakfast who both enjoy success with new audiences.”


BBC Sounds has already released its latest listening figures ahead of the radio listening figures this week.

RAJAR has a round-up of other Q2 statistics in relation to digital which make interesting reading for radio industry watchers.

For platform share of listening, 68% of consumption is now digital (within that 41% is DAB, 22% is online and 5% is digital TV).

For smart speaker users, 53% claim to listen to radio weekly via their device and 22% listen every day.

Subscribers can click here to read our interview with Capital Xtra’s Robert Bruce from our latest edition of the magazine.


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