Covid-19 web traffic: 'Broadsheet' and financial news sites emerging as big winners of the crisis

Broadsheet newspapers and financial news outlets are emerging as the big online traffic winners of the Covid-19 crisis so far, Press Gazette research suggests. 

A large number of news websites saw their online readership figures soar in March as interest in the Covid-19 crisis peaked.

Traffic fell in April and May, and for many tabloid sites this meant their readership falling to below pre-coronavirus crisis levels, according to figures from Similarweb (data can be found at the bottom of this article).

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However, an analysis of traffic between January and May shows that other sites have managed to sustain a large portion of their new online audience.

This tallies with Press Gazette research last week that found many broadsheet brands with online paywalls – the New York Times, LA Times, Telegraph and The Times among them – have gained a large number of new paying digital subscribers this year.

An analysis of Similarweb’s traffic data between January and May for more than 40 news websites in the US and UK found that Sky News was the best individual performer.

According to the data, news.sky.com attracted 30.8m visits in January across desktop and mobile devices. Its traffic more than doubled to 77.8m in March, and dipped to 55.4m last month – still up 80 per cent on January.

The next best performers on our list were the Financial Times, The Times, Bloomberg and Forbes.com.

The chart below shows how financial news sites Forbes, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, the FT and the Economist all managed to keep their web traffic above pre-Covid-19 levels in May.

It is a similar story for the websites of traditional broadsheet newspapers.

The New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, Independent, Telegraph, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Times and the Boston Globe all kept their May web traffic levels above those from January.

It is a different story for tabloid newspaper websites.

The New York Post and the Daily Star (not in this graph because of its smaller size) both increased online readership between January and May.

But Mail Online, the Express, USA Today, The Sun and the Mirror have all seen their traffic fall since the start of the year, according to Similarweb figures.

It is unclear why this is the case. One senior industry source spoken to by Press Gazette in April suggested that tabloid sites were losing out because their broadsheet rivals are being favoured in online searches on Google.

This theory is supported by a report from Searchmetrics, which found that The Guardian was the most visible newsbrand on Google on searches for coronavirus news.

See below for a full table of the top 30 US and UK news websites examined by Press Gazette for this research. Note, BBC.co.uk and BBC.com are counted separately. Together they form the biggest news website.

Total website clicks in May, according to SimilarWeb estimates

Percentage change since January
MSN.com

799,500,000

6.03%

CNN

731,500,000

7.81%

bbc.co.uk

604,000,000

7.86%

bbc.com

451,500,000

-2.27%

New York Times

382,000,000

23.23%

Fox News

346,500,000

-9.17%

The Guardian

335,500,000

16.70%

dailymail.co.uk

331,500,000

-7.53%

news.yahoo.com

251,500,000

37.06%

Washington Post

205,000,000

31.83%

forbes.com

149,000,000

37.96%

buzzfeed.com

138,500,000

-3.15%

Business Insider

132,000,000

10.92%

Express

121,000,000

-15.97%

USA Today

120,500,000

-4.74%

New York Post

116,500,000

3.56%

The Sun

105,000,000

-8.70%

Independent

93,900,000

12.32%

NBC News

93,500,000

6.86%

NPR

89,200,000

22.19%

huffpost.com

83,200,000

-4.48%

Bloomberg

82,400,000

43.55%

Telegraph

79,500,000

18.66%

Mirror

72,500,000

-19.08%

Reuters

72,400,000

23.34%

Breitbart

70,438,038

-6.71%

Wall Street Journal

69,300,000

12.32%

politico.com

64,600,000

33.47%

LA Times

57,200,000

14.63%

Sky News

55,400,000

79.87%


Picture: Financial Times

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