When Chris Evans left his breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 at the end of 2018, he was heard by just over 9 million listeners a week. Since moving to digital-only station Virgin Radio, that number has dropped to just under a million.
That’s a fall in roughly 8 million listeners, if we’re keeping score.
Still, given that Virgin is still a relatively new station, Evans is starting from scratch and you need to either be online or have a DAB radio to listen, the ratings aren’t actually that bad at all.
Effectively, Evans has brought over almost 1m listeners to Virgin. According to the latest RAJAR figures released today (May 16), he was heard by 994,000 a week in the first three months of this year, which is a 576% increase in Virgin’s audience.
In comparison to other digital-only stations, he’s already ahead of Radio X’s more-established Chris Moyles (928,000 a week) and only 300k behind the even-more-established Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music (1.3m a week).
Evans said in statement: “Last year, I said I wanted a new mountain to climb. And the view from the top of the News Tower isn’t half bad. But really this is just base camp. I’m back in my spiritual home and loving every minute of it.”
The station’s overall numbers have also gone up massively, from 447,000 last quarter to 1.3m, so Evans has brought around 850,000 unique listeners to Virgin.
But even though his breakfast show doesn’t have any ads (as it’s sponsored by Sky), he’s never going to get anywhere near the 9 million he had on Radio 2. Speaking of which…
Zoe Ball replaced Evans as the BBC station’s breakfast host last year, and the ratings have barely changed.
Ball is being heard by 9.047m a week, which is only 18,000 fewer than what Evans finished with.
So, whether the Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenter has lost some of Evans’ fans or gained her own, she’s done a really good job keeping Radio 2’s morning listenership basically the same.
The station itself has also added more listeners overall, going from 14.9m to 15.3m.
As for Radio 1, breakfast host Greg James has lost some of his audience, but only slightly. A few months ago, he was heard by 5.11m including those aged 15 and older, and that number has now fallen to just over 5m.
Radio 1 overall, which suffered a heavy fall in the ratings last year, has dropped once again, this time going from 9.37m to 9.30m.
LBC, meanwhile, achieved its biggest audience in its 46-year history in 2018 – and guess what: it’s broken that record.
The station, naturally inspired by the turbulent time in politics, is now reaching an average of 2.25m listeners a week nationally. And given the delay over Brexit, that number will surely only grow.
In London, Capital is still the city’s biggest commercial station, even though its weekly audience fell from 1.87m to 1.76m.
And finally, BBC 6 Music remains the biggest digital-only station with 2.5m listeners a week, a slight increase from 2.3m a few months ago.