New radio listening figures reveal battle of the breakfast presenters

As new Rajar listening figures are released, how do Chris Evans, Nick Grimshaw and the other breakfast hosts really compare?


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Current: 5.44 million weekly listeners, a new lowest figure for the Radio 1 Breakfast host

Highest:  5.97m (His predecessor Chris Moyles peaked at 7.9 million in 2010) 

Nick Grimshaw was tasked with lowering the average age of Radio 1’s listeners when he took over from Chris Moyles nearly four years ago. The BBC insist part of that is losing viewers who don’t fit into their ideal demographic. 

The Radio 1 Breakfast Show With Nick Grimshaw now attracts 5.44 million, down from 5.87m last quarter and 5.5m last year. The dip is reflected in Radio 1’s overall audience, which fell to its second lowest ever, with an average weekly reach of 9.9 million.

“Rajars are only part of a bigger story, as we’ve seen record numbers for our distinctive programming on YouTube and social media to complement the 40% of 15-24s who listen to Radio 1 every week,” said Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper. “As young audiences increasingly spend time on mobiles, we have to evolve and so I’m delighted with the 3 million YouTube subscribers and a combined 8 million audience across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” 

Current: 9.73 million weekly listeners 

Highest: 9.91 million  

Chris Evans may be about to front the reboot of Top Gear, but he’s clearly not been slacking when it comes to his Radio 2 Breakfast show.

The 50-year-old presenter, who took over from Terry Wogan in January 2010, continues to pull in impressive numbers. Listening figures for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show are up from 9.44m last quarter and 9.46m last year. It’s a good result for Radio 2, which has hung onto its spot as the biggest station in the country by some distance, with 15.5 million listeners, up 2.8% on last year.

Current: 776,000 weekly listeners 

Previous: 300,000 (in the last few months of 2015 – but that’s only made up of London-based listeners)

Chris Moyles, the man who used to front the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, now heads up the morning slot at Radio X – previously known as XFM.

Moyles is now pulling in 776,000 after the station went national last September, although his London audience is down almost half to 170,000. Radio X boasts 1.2 million listeners overall, up 40% from the same time last year.

Current: 1.9 million weekly listeners 

Highest: Up 19% year-on-year, this is a record high for Christian O’Connell’s slot 

Christian O’Connell, who has also presented on 5 Live, has fronted Absolute Radio’s weekday morning spot since 2006, and his listening figures are currently at an all-time high. The 43-year-old’s Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show is up 7.3% on last quarter, alongside a total yearly growth of 24.6%. 

Current: 689,000 weekly listeners 

Previous: 495,000 (last quarter)

Radio 3 tasks itself with “waking the UK up with the finest classical music in the best performances” and it seems more and more of us are keen to be roused that way. The station has achieved its highest reach in three years, is up 7% year on year, with Clemency Burton-Hill and Petroc Trelawny’s breakfast slot seeing a sizeable increase of 28.1%.

“BBC Radio 3 is in rude health and the station has had a fantastic year under its new controller with landmark seasons and carefully thought through changes to the schedule,” says director of BBC Radio Helen Boaden. “The unique blend of remarkable music and culture programming is something you’d only find on Radio 3, and I’m delighted that so many listeners are connecting with the station and its output.”

Current: 6.8 million weekly listeners

Previous: 7.1m (same quarter of 2015)

Former BBC political editor Nick Robinson has joined the Today programme following the departure of long-standing Today presenter James Naughtie.


Last quarter the Today programme pulled in 7.02 million, but now the Radio 4 show has lost 300,000 listeners. These new figures also see Radio 4 as a whole slip down 2.9% to 10.6 million listeners, despite a strong listener response to longstanding programme The Archers.