RAJARS: Capital Xtra, Greatest Hits Radio and Asian Network among Q1 radio ratings winners

RAJARS: Capital Xtra, Greatest Hits Radio and Asian Network among Q1 radio ratings winners

The RAJAR radio listening figures for the first quarter of the year (up to March 31) have been released with mixed results for the major networks.

At the BBC, it was a sluggish quarter for the big stations. Music Week Awards winners BBC Radio 1 is down 3.5% year-on-year in Q1 to 7.31 million listeners (but dipping just slightly on the prior quarter). 

Radio 1 Breakfast with Greg James is stable compared to the prior quarter on 3.95m (year-on-year comparisons were not available).

Aled Haydn Jones, head of BBC Radio 1, said: “These are great figures for Radio 1 and being the biggest station in the country for young audiences, and Greg having the most popular young Breakfast Show across the UK, means that we are always working extra hard to deliver new music, new DJs and new content.”

The station also has a significant reach across social media platforms and YouTube.

BBC Radio 2 is down by a more alarming 8.5% year-on-year to 13.23m listeners – and that 2023 Q1 result still included listening for Ken Bruce, who was on air for much of the quarter. But the latest RAJAR figure still makes Radio 2 the most popular network in the UK. What’s more, the quarter-on-quarter decline of just 0.4% suggests that the audience loss being inflicted by Bruce’s arrival on Greatest Hits Radio in April 2023 may have been stemmed.

The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show is up slightly on the quarter to 6.62m, but down from 7.26m a year earlier.

BBC Radio 6 Music retains its crown as the top digital station, though audience reach is off by 6% year-on-year at 2.55m (but that represents a 1.2% increase on the prior quarter).

The more specialist BBC stations performed rather better in Q1.

BBC Radio 1Xtra is flat in terms of growth year-on-year at 786,000 (down just 0.8%) but up 9.5% on the prior quarter. The station has also seen its average hours per listener increase by 18% to 4.5 hours (although that is still less than many other BBC stations).

A year on from the appointment of Sam Jackson as controller, BBC Radio 3 has a solid set of RAJAR results (as well as a Music Week Awards nomination). The classical station’s weekly listenership is up 3.3% year-on-year to just under two million (also up 12.4% on the prior quarter). Its average hours per listener are up 11% to eight hours.

Asian Network’s ratings soared by 22.1% year-on-year to 542,000 (up 21% on the prior quarter), although average hours per listener decreased by around 30% to 4.2.


The two commercial giants recorded their biggest ever radio audiences.

Global amassed an audience of 27.6m across its portfolio.

With Heart and Capital, Global has the top two commercial brands nationally. It also has the top three breakfast shows in London (Heart, LBC and Capital).

Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden is the UK’s largest commercial breakfast show with 4.17m listeners. The Heart network is up 6.1% year-on-year to 9.44m listeners.

Capital Breakfast has 2.55m listeners. This includes Roman Kemp’s final show as he handed over to Jordan North on April 8. Overall, Capital Network edged up 1.5% to 6.24m.

One of the star performers was Capital Xtra, where the combination of hip-hop and R&B pulled in a record result across the brand (including Reloaded) of 2.05m. The main Capital Xtra station was on 1.69m (up 17.3% year-on-year). Global points out that it has more than double the audience of BBC Radio 1Xtra.   

Capital Xtra Breakfast with Robert Bruce and Shayna Marie (pictured) has 624,000 listeners, increasing in both reach and hours year-on-year.  

There were record results for the Radio X brand. The Radio X network is up 2.8% to 2.07m listeners, while Chris Moyles’ breakfast show is up about 100,000 year-on-year at 1.16m.

Ashley Tabor-King, founder & executive president of Global, said: “What an incredible day! To have added a million listeners and achieve record reach, hours and share, hitting over 27 million listeners for the first time ever (27.6m) is a real moment. For connected listening to overtake analogue listening is testament to Global Player and all those who have worked so hard to create that platform."

James Rea, chief broadcasting & content officer at Global, said: “This is a stunning set of record results for Global. I’m thrilled for our fantastic teams who work so hard to produce amazing content every day and we’re all incredibly grateful to our audiences right around the UK who continue to turn to Global’s brands in their millions.” 


Bauer Media Audio UK notes that it hit new heights in Q1’s RAJAR figures with 24m across all stations.

Greatest Hits Radio is a standout performer, increasing its audience by 50.3% year-on-year to 7.69m. The reason that result is so strong in comparison is that Ken Bruce was not at the station in Q1 of 2023. The comparison with Q4 of 2023 is a less dramatic 13.8% uplift. 

Nevertheless, there’s no doubting the star power of the Scottish broadcasting veteran, whose show pulled in 3.8m listeners (compared to 2.2m for the same time slot in Q1 last year). 

Simon Mayo had the biggest commercial drivetime show (though listeners were not disclosed which suggests no growth to shout about), while Rossie at Breakfast had a record 2.9m listeners (up 39% year-on-year).

The Hits Radio Network has 6.7m listeners a week (flat year-on-year).

Meanwhile, Absolute Radio Network has a record reach with 5.48m listeners (up 2.7% year-on-year). The main Absolute Radio station is the UK’s biggest commercial digital station with 2.24m, although that’s down 8% year-on-year. Dave Berry at breakfast on Absolute also pulls in 2.24m listeners, up around 100,000 on Q1 in 2023.

The Kiss brand performed less well this quarter with the main station down 8.4% year-on-year (2.29m), Kisstory down 3.5% (2.09m) and Kiss Fresh down 10% (225,000).

Kerrang! Radio’s listenership has grown by a third in the last year to 456,000.

Simon Myciunka, CEO for Bauer Media Audio UK, said: “It’s great to see another record performance for Bauer Media Audio UK, reflecting the ambition and confidence of the business as it continues to evolve. We are committed to driving even further growth as evidenced by significant recent investment in Hits Radio, delivering even more value for our advertising partners.”

Ben Cooper, departing as chief content & music officer, added: “A year of Ken Bruce on Greatest Hits Radio has changed the landscape of our industry, with huge gains in audiences for the station and Bauer as a whole. Listeners are loving our range of talented broadcasters across the portfolio with record results for Absolute Radio and Magic Radio Networks.”

Meanwhile, Virgin Radio’s audience growth is flat at 1.5m. Chris Evans’ breakfast show is stable at 893,000.


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