Entertainment & Arts

BBC 6 Music draws record listeners

Lauren Laverne
Image caption 6 Music's Lauren Laverne fronted this year's Glastonbury coverage

BBC Radio 6 Music has won record audience figures, reaching almost two million listeners over the past three months, according to Rajar.

The digital-only station now has 1.99 million listeners tuning in each week, up from 1.73 million last year - a 15% increase.

6 Music's audience has more than doubled since a public campaign saved it from a proposed closure in 2010.

Lauren Laverne hosts the most-listened to show, drawing 868,000 each week.

"The brilliant figures for Radio 6 Music shows the network continues to go from strength to strength, cementing its position in the digital space," said Bob Shennan, controller Radio 2, 6 Music, Asian Network and director, BBC Music.

"I'm thrilled that Shaun Keaveny, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie are all reaching record audiences - with Lauren Laverne leading the charge as the most listened to show on the station."

The station's listening figures overtook those of BBC Radio 3 for the first time in July, prompting MP Tom Watson to suggest that Radio 3 should give up its FM slot to 6 Music as a result of being leapfrogged by the digital service.

Widening gap

Speaking ahead of the current Rajar figures, new Radio 3 controller Alan Davey denied the audience shortfall for the classical music station represented "a trend".

"It's one quarter's listening figures we are talking about," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday.

But the most recent numbers show the gap between the two stations has widened, with 6 Music now drawing 82,000 more listeners than Radio 3, despite the last quarter including the station's popular Proms coverage.

Radio 3 has a weekly audience of 1.91 million listeners - compared to 1.88m last quarter and 2.03m last year.

Some 27% of those tuning in to 6 Music listen through the internet, the first time a UK station has pulled in more than a quarter of its audience in that way.

Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, said 6 Music "offers something completely distinctive", adding Laverne's mid-morning show was "a case study in engaging and intelligent music radio".

The figures also show digital radio listening has grown by 6% to a record high of almost 38%.

Absolute Radio 80s, the largest commercial digital-only station, also grew - by 18% - to a new record of 1.43 million listeners.

In the battle of the breakfast hosts, BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans dropped 600,000 listeners in the space of three months to give him weekly audience figures of 9.3 million.

BBC Radio 1 rival Nick Grimshaw drew 5.82 million, down 150,000 on the previous quarter. Both stations lost listeners across the summer quarter, giving them audience figures of 15.01 million and 10.55 million respectively.

Radio 1 controller, Ben Cooper, said: "As Radio 1 continues to lead the industry in becoming a multi-platform youth brand, which recently passed 1.6 million YouTube subscribers, these figures only tell part of the story.

"I'm very pleased that in the traditionally difficult summer quarter, the Radio 1 Breakfast Show has 240,000 new listeners in the year."

The Heart Network remains the most popular commercial station with 9.07m listeners - a 6.6% share of the audience.

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