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Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show has lowest audience in 10 years

Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show has shed listeners (BBC/PA)
Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show has shed listeners (BBC/PA)

The BBC’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show, hosted by Zoe Ball, has scored its lowest listener numbers in a decade, new research shows.

Ball’s breakfast slot also shed nearly a million listeners year-on-year, according to the latest figures released by audience research body Rajar.

In the third quarter of 2019, Ball drew 7.90 million weekly listeners while her predecessor Chris Evans drew 8.82 million weekly listeners in the same time period last year.

Chris Evans
Chris Evans left Radio 2 at the end of 2018 (Yui Mok/PA)

Ball’s programme had initially maintained a steady listenership in the first quarter of 2019 after she took over from Evans in January, with an average weekly audience of 9.05 million – almost unchanged from the 9.07 million for Evans’s final three months.

However, it dropped to 8.27 million weekly listeners in the second quarter of this year, and Ball’s weekday morning broadcast has now lost more than 300,000 additional listeners over the following three months.

The new figures are the lowest for the Radio 2 Breakfast Show since the July-September period in 2009 when Sir Terry Wogan was presenter with 7.76 million tuning in on a weekly basis.

Despite the drop in audience, Ball – who made history when she became the first female host of the breakfast show in the station’s history – still has the most popular breakfast programme across the country.

Radio 2 Breakfast Show average weekly audience
Radio 2 Breakfast Show average weekly audience (PA Graphics)

Having left Radio 2 to host a new breakfast show on Virgin, Evans has retained a stable audience over the last three months, the latest research from Rajar shows.

Evans’s programme scored an average audience of 1.11 million weekly listeners in the third quarter of 2019, matching his second quarter ratings.

Greg James, who hosts the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show on Mondays to Thursdays, has seen a boost in listeners year-on-year.

In the third quarter of 2019 James’s broadcast had a weekly average audience of 5.05 million listeners, compared to 4.98 million in the third quarter of 2018.

Greg James
Greg James has had a boost in listeners (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ben Cooper, who this week announced his departure as the controller of BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network, said that the BBC is “so proud that Greg James’s Breakfast Show continues to successfully attract audiences”.

Along with Radio 2, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has also recorded its lowest number of listeners in a decade as veteran host John Humphrys made his departure.

The latest figures show the programme drew an average weekly listenership of 6.60 million in the third quarter of 2019, the last quarter with Humphrys at the mic.

It marks the smallest audience Today has had since the July-September period in 2009, when 6.60 million listeners were recorded.

The Heart network’s new national breakfast radio show, with Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston at the helm, is the most popular commercial radio breakfast slot.

The nationwide programme was launched on June 3, replacing the network’s string of local breakfast broadcasts.

Its first full quarter of audience figures show Holden and Theakston’s show drew an average of 4.56 million weekly listeners in the third quarter.

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