Chris Evans and 6 Music boost BBC

Rajars: The Radio 2 breakfast show has gained over a million listeners since Chris Evans took over from Sir Terry Wogan in January, according to the latest audience listening figures, while the threatened digital-only station 6 Music has seen its audience increase by 50%.

Chris Evans
Chris Evans

Evans, who will be presenting the Marketing Week Engage awards next week (18 May), registered 9.5 million listeners per week in the three months to 31 March, according to latest Rajar data, compared with the 8.4 million that tuned into Sir Terry in the final quarter of 2009 and the 8.1 million that listened each week in the same period last year.

Sir Terry presented his last breakfast show on 18 December after 27 years in the slot.

It was thought that Evans could lose listeners. Many of Sir Terry’s audience, dubbed TOGSs”, (Terry’s old geezers and gals) were unhappy at the decision to replace him with the younger and often controversial Evans.

Meanwhile, 6 Music saw its audience increase to 1.02 million, up 47.2% quarter on quarter and 50.2% year on year.

The station is due to be axed at the end of the year following a strategic review by BBC director general Mark Thompson, announced in March. News of the closure prompted a backlash from listeners with over 100,000 joining a Facebook group demanding the digital-only station be saved.

The performance of Evans and 6 Music helped the BBC increase its share of the radio market.

The corporation registered a 56.5% slice of the market in the first quarter, up from 55.2% in the last three months of 2009 and an improvement on the 56.3% posted in the first three months of 2009.

Commercial radio’ share slid to 41.3%, down from 42.6% in the previous quarter and 41.6% last year.

Crucially, the commercial sector also lost some of its share of the advertiser-friendly  15-44 year-old market, down to 51.2% from 53.2% in the previous three month period and 51.6% last year.

However, commercial radio’s weekly reach increased by 2.5% quarter on quarter and 21.1% year on year to 32.16 million. The BBC also added listeners, up 4.8%on the previous quarter and 3.2% on last year to 34.8 million.

The gains helped lift total radio listening to 46.5 million people per week.

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