Radio 1 Loses a Million Listeners Due to Aggressive Pursuit of Young Audience

Image Credit: Eamonn McCormack / Getty Images

BBC Radio 1 has lost a million listeners over the course of the past year, with the radio station plummeting to its lowest number for over a decade.

The BBC have reported that the station pulled in 9.5 million listeners a week between the months of April and June, compared to the 10.4 million that tuned in during the same time period in 2015. The new analytics, posted by audience tracker Rajar, indicate a declining interest in the broadcaster’s flagship station. However, the BBC remain resolute in defending these figures, with the station’s controller Ben Cooper releasing a statement, saying: “Rajar are only part of the picture for Radio 1, and our listeners should be seen alongside increases on our YouTube channel as it goes past one billion views and our growing social media platforms with over 8.5 million users.

“To focus solely on Rajar is similar to looking at how many newspapers have been sold without looking at their online presence or national influence.”

Other stats released by Rajar revealed that more people tuned into commercial radio than the combined BBC radio service during the previous quarter, with the BBC drawing in 35.07 million listeners compared to the 35.57 million pulled in by commercial stations. The percentage of the population listening to the radio weekly is 90.1%, which represents a marginal increase over the 89.9% of the population who listened back in 2015.

Radio 1’s declining listening figures are as a result of it targeting a new demographic, with Cooper having previously stated that he wanted to “scare off” the over 30s, appealing to a new audience of 15-29-year-olds. This dismissal of their previous demographic, with Chris Moyles’ famous Radio 1 show drawing in listeners with an average age of 38, accounts for the station’s substantial losses, but it remains to be seen how long they can continue to bleed out before making major changes.