The Sun cites Comscore data to say it is now the number two UK newspaper online

The Sun says it has overtaken the Mirror to become the third most popular news website in the UK in January 2017, citing data released by Comscore.

The data gives Sun Online a total digital audience of 25.4m unique visitors across the month in the UK, just ahead of Mirror Online on 23.8m. Mail Online is in second place on 29.3m and the BBC remains top on 39.9m.

Sun Online includes associated sites such as DreamTeamFC.com (1.2m users per month) and Club950.co.uk (535,00 users per month).

When “The Sun UK” is compared to Mirror.co.uk on Comscore, the Mirror is still slightly ahead (on 23.2m for The Sun versus 23.6m for Mirror.co.uk).

According to Comscore data cited by the Mirror, when you compare the specific domains Mirror.co.uk with TheSun.co.uk the gap is more pronounced, with 23.6m unique visitors per month for the Mirror versus 20m for The Sun.

A Mirror spokesperson said: “On a like for like basis, Mirror Online remains comfortably ahead of Sun Online, and by a healthy margin.

“Nobody else in ComScore does it in the way they have – The Sun have just thrown everything in together to inflate their number vs actual Sun traffic.”

But a Sun spokesperson countered: “The Sun’s extensions – Dream Team, Bingo, Sun Bets – are part of the Sun’s online DNA and part of the entire brand.

“If our inclusion of those additional sites wasn’t fair ComScore wouldn’t have allowed us to include them.”

Comscore has The Guardian and Independent/Evening Standard neck and neck in the UK on 22.6m and 22m respectively. Comscore lumps in the two Lebedev-owned sites together.

The Sun has been growing fast since it ditched its online paywall in November 2015 and began investing heavily in a free site aimed at a mass UK audience.

Sun editor Tony Gallagher said: “The Sun Online has had a remarkable 12 months, rising from one of the least-read national newspapers online to now the second most-read overall.

“We are especially pleased with our brilliant figures for mobile audience and that much of our growth has come from readers in the UK. This exceptional achievement demonstrates the enduring power of The Sun brand in paper and online, and the hard work and skill of the team we have put together.”

The Comscore figures vary from ABC data which counts global newspaper website traffic and which  had The Sun in fourth place behind Mail Online, the Mirror and The Independent in January.

This story has been edited from the original version to reflect comment from the Daily Mirror and further respone from The Sun.

UK news website traffic for January 2017 (Comscore, via The Sun)

Title Total unique visitors Desktop Mobile % change month on month
    BBC Sites 39,897 21,825 32,590 7
    Mail Online / Daily Mail 29,310 10,803 23,229 9
    The Sun Online 25,408 3,916 23,050 16
    Mirror Online 23,845 4,901 20,749 4
    The Guardian 22,671 8,155 17,636 11
    Independent & Evening Standard (ESi Media) 22,005 5,863 18,273 19
    Telegraph Media Group 20,006 7,179 15,225 17
    USA TODAY Network 15,616 4,712 12,413 12
    Yahoo-ABC News Network 14,029 4,663 10,796 18
    BUZZFEED.COM 12,297 3,060 10,124 9
    HPMG News 11,598 3,836 8,824 30
    Johnston Press Plc 9,675 2,704 7,680 29
    EXPRESS.CO.UK 9,657 3,848 6,782 18
    About 8,573 4,054 5,452 26
    ITV News 8,337 1,161 7,485 2
    Sky News 7,905 1,848 6,573 -2
    CNN Network 7,154 2,473 5,274 45
    AccuWeather Sites 6,982 1,141 6,140 40
    Manchester Evening News 6,570 1,054 5,775 25
    New York Times Digital 6,109 1,843 4,723 15
    Times Online 5,567 1,739 4,262 -2

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