Zoe Ball has shed more than three quarters of a million listeners on her BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show over the past three months, new research shows.
The drop of around 780,000 listeners in the second quarter of the year marks the programme’s lowest audience listening figure in nearly 10 years, according to the latest figures released by audience research body Rajar.
Ball took over from previous host Chris Evans in January and initially managed to maintain a steady listenership until March, with an average weekly audience of 9.05 million – almost unchanged from the 9.07 million for Evans’s final three months.
However, in the period from April to June, the radio programme has dropped to 8.27 million weekly listeners, new figures from Rajar show.
The last time the audience was as low was in the third quarter of 2010, with 8.14 million listeners recorded during Evans’ first year as host.
Despite the decrease, Ball – who made history when she became the first female breakfast show host in the station’s history – still has the most popular breakfast programme across the country.
However, her Radio 2 colleague Ken Bruce has leapfrogged her and now has the most listened-to radio programme in the UK, with an average weekly audience of 8.49 million for his mid-morning programme, according to the BBC.
Referring to his achievement and his popular music quiz, Bruce said: “After 34 years as a part of the BBC Radio 2 family, I’m astounded that the allure of my daily grumpy musings, coupled with PopMaster, continue to entertain. Many thanks to the long-suffering listeners.”
BBC Radio 2’s weekly reach in total over the three-month period was 14.59 million, down from 15.36 million in the previous quarter.
Lewis Carnie, head of Radio 2, said: “We’re immensely proud that over 14.5 million people tune in to our programming, presented by some of the UK’s best loved entertainers each week.”
Meanwhile, Evans – who left Radio 2 to host a new breakfast show on Virgin – has slightly grown his audience over the past three months, the latest research from Rajar shows.
He is up from 1.05 million weekly listeners to 1.11 million on the commercial network.
Evans said: “Six months in, and we couldn’t be happier. Amazing guests, the best bands and certifiably the greatest listeners around.”
Radio 1’s breakfast programme, hosted by Greg James, has grown by nearly 150,000 listeners per week in comparison to the first quarter of 2019.
His programme, which airs Monday to Thursday, scored 5.19 million weekly listeners over the past three months. In the first quarter, he had a weekly reach of 5.04 million.
According to the BBC, this is James’ highest number of listeners since he took over the breakfast slot from Nick Grimshaw last year.
BBC Radio 1’s weekly reach across all programmes was 9.56 million, up from 9.30 million last quarter.
Ben Cooper, controller BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network, said: “Record figures for Greg James’ Breakfast Show and fantastic results for Radio 1, as we continue to build our reach across all platforms and bring in new, younger audiences to the BBC.”
Scala Radio, the new classical station which signed Simon Mayo from the BBC, had an average weekly audience of 258,000 for its first full quarter on air.
Rival station Classic FM has a weekly audience of 5.6 million, while BBC Radio 3 has a weekly audience of 2.03 million, according to the latest figures.