Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show loses 1m listeners since pandemic

Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 breakfast show has lost a further one million listeners, official figures suggest. 

The flagship programme drew in 7.2 million weekly listeners from April 5 to September 19 this year, in the first numbers from research body Rajar since the pandemic struck. 

In the last available figures from the first quarter of 2020, 8.1 million listeners were tuning in each week. 

The show had two million more listeners in late 2018 – 9.1 million – just before Zoe Ball took over as host from Chris Evans. 

Baby boomers ‘increasingly left out’

The figures released on Wednesday use a new methodology, with a larger sample size and more data sources including panellists and a smartphone app, meaning they are not directly comparable to previous years. 

But the Radio 2 breakfast show remains the most listened-to in the country, as audiences turned to more online listening during lockdown while stuck at home. 

Boom Radio, the new station for over-55s, has amassed 233,000 weekly listeners since launching in February for pensioners who feel alienated by Radio 2’s shift to younger audiences. 

The station said baby boomers were being “increasingly left out by the market”, with its listeners – 90 per cent of them over 55 – tuning in eight hours per week, against Radio 2’s 11 hours per week. 

Radio 2 had 14.6 million weekly listeners, with 10.8 million tuning into Radio 4 and 8.3 million tuning into Radio 1. Overall, the BBC shared half of all listeners nationally. 

The Radio 1 breakfast show, hosted by Greg James, pulled in 4.3 million weekly listeners, while the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 drew 6.5 million in the same time period.

Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s chief content officer, said that despite “huge changes to listening habits during the pandemic as people start their days later”, its breakfast shows “continue to be hugely popular”.

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