Top 50 UK news sites in April 2021: BBC dominates but local news sites see fastest growth

Local news sites were among those that saw the biggest year-on-year growth in audience in the UK last month, according to Press Gazette’s exclusive ranking of the the country’s most popular news websites.

Hellomagazine.com was the single fastest-growing site according to data from web analytics firm SimilarWeb, but four titles from the UK’s biggest regional publisher Reach were among the ten sites that saw the most growth in audience between April 2020 and April 2021.

Leicester Live, one of several digital newsbrands launched by Reach in recent years, was the second fastest-growing site, with year-on-year visits up 70% from 3.2 million to 5.4 million. It was followed in third place with another Reach brand, Birmingham Live, which saw visits increase 67% from 8.4 million to 14.1 million. Examiner Live, which got a boost after it was rolled into the company's broader Yorkshire Live brand came in sixth with visits up 52% to 5.7 million. Also in the top ten was Reach national title, the Daily Star.

Among the sites with the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic were several national newsbrands. The Financial Times saw visits fall 32% to 11.2 million, while the audience to metro.co.uk was down 37% to 22.4 million.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, local news sites again led the way. Visits to the website of Reach title the Liverpool Echo were up 10% on last month at 15.8 million, while the 24.4 million visits to the website of the Manchester Evening News, the UK’s most popular online local news brand, represented an 8% increase on March. Russian state-funded English news site RT.com also made the top five for growth with its 4.8 million visits in April- an increase of 5% on last month.

When it comes to the leading sites for volume of visits, the BBC’s digital properties, bbc.com and bbc.co.uk are clear leaders. The two sites together racked up 689 million visits in April - almost five times more than second-placed dailymail.co.uk which counted 144 million visits during the month.

Rounding out the top five when it comes to number of visits are the sites of three other established news brands: theguardian.com, express.co.uk and thesun.co.uk.

Combined visits to the current top 50 sites were slightly down compared to March. The leading 50 sites racked up 1.7 billion visits between them in April - 6% lower than last month. Overall, year-on-year traffic saw a slight boost with combined visits up 6% compared to April 2020. Of the current top 50 sites, 27 had year-on-year traffic increases, while just six saw month-on-month gains.

SimilarWeb generates its traffic data by applying machine learning and modelling to statistically representative datasets that the company collects. Datasets are based on direct measurement (i.e. websites and apps that choose to share first-party analytics with SimilarWeb); contributory networks that aggregate device data; partnerships and public data extraction from websites and apps.

Visit data is based on desktop and mobile web visits. A visit (session) means that a visitor has accessed one or more pages in a website. Subsequent page views are included in the same visit until the user is inactive for more than 30 minutes.

Press Gazette uses SimilarWeb data for its digital traffic analysis stories so we can compare figures across publishers, who differ in how they measure their own audience data.

 

Note: Press Gazette will be updating this page on a monthly basis. See our previous coverage here:

Biggest news websites in the world archive data

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