Biggest local news websites UK: Top 50 ranking for 2022

Regional top 50: Eight local newsbrands reach more than one in ten people in the UK

Manchester Evening News and Kent Online homepages

Eight of the UK’s local news websites reached more than one in ten people aged over 15 in the UK in April, according to a new Press Gazette ranking of the biggest local newsbrands in the UK.

Manchester Evening News (the MEN) was the UK’s largest regional brand reaching 18.1 million people in April – 36% of the UK population over 15 – an increase of 4% month-on-month, according to data from Ipsos iris.

Fellow Reach “big city” brand Liverpool Echo was the second best-ranked regional newsbrand reaching 10.4 million people (21% reach), while Birmingham Live was third (10.3 million people, 21% reach).

Daily Record (10 million people, 20% reach), Wales Online (6.2 million people, 12% reach), MyLondon (6.1 million people, 12% reach), Examiner Live (5.6 million people, 11% reach) and Chronicle Live (5.5 million people, 11% reach) were the other newsbrands accessed by more than 10% of people in the UK over 15.

For our list, we used Ipsos’ ranking of the top online brand groups and selected the 50 biggest which, in Press Gazette’s view, are sub-national newsbrands. While they are not strictly “local” newsbrands, we have also included titles such as Wales Online and the Daily Record that cover the whole of one of the UK’s constituent nations since they are still at a sub-UK level.

The list is dominated by the UK’s largest regional publisher Reach, whose brands accounted for three-quarters of the top 50 table. Reach’s brands also took all of the top ten spots for audience size. The Mirror and Daily Express publisher recently moved 150 journalists from regional to national and big city titles to work on national coverage in a bid to reach 60 million daily page views across its network.

Although year-long Ipsos iris data is not yet available, meaning year-on-year comparisons are not yet possible, month-on-month comparisons show that 19 of the top 50 regional newsbrands saw more traffic in April compared to March.

This meant that they did better than most brands on our top 50 UK newsbrands list, on which just six non-local brands saw more traffic in April than March. The decline in interest about coverage of the Ukraine war is likely to have impacted regional newsbrands less than national brands.

Among the top 50 regional newsbrands, fastest-growing in April was Berkshire Live (audience of 1.1 million, 70% growth month-on-month). It was followed by Teeside Live (1.2 million people, 39% growth) and National World's Portsmouth title, The News (1.2 million people, 26% growth).

Manchester Evening News, which was the fastest-growing newsbrand in the UK national top ten, was ranked 14th among regional newsbrands for growth (up 3% month-on-month). MEN is consistently the best-ranked regional name in Press Gazette’s overall UK top 50.

While half of the top ten fastest-growing regional newsbrands in April were Reach properties, on average the publisher’s 37 newsbrands in the ranking saw 1.4% less traffic in April than in March.

The six National World brands in the ranking saw an average of 2% more traffic in April, while average month-on-month audience to the three Newsquest sites in the list was unchanged. Other publishers only had a single brand in the top 50.

When it comes to engagement, audiences spent most time overall with the two biggest regional brands by audience size, MEN (115 million minutes, followed by Liverpool Echo (56 million minutes).

Yet, while it ranked 19th for reach, Iliffe-owned KM Media Group's Kent Online came seventh for engagement. Its high engagement ranking was driven by the fact that audiences spent an average of over 18 minutes with the brand, more than any other title in the list, according to Ipsos’ data.

Wales Online (8.7 minutes per user on average) and Archant’s Eastern Daily Press (7.2minutes) were second and third-best ranked for time spent per audience member.

Ipsos iris replaced Comscore as the industry-recognised standard in 2021. Ipsos iris data is partly derived from a panel of 10,000 people aged 15 and over that is designed to be nationally representative. The participants have meters installed across 25,000 personal devices to passively measure website and app usage.

This data is combined with data from participating websites that are tagged so all devices visiting the site can be identified and logged.

Publishers often have their own internal audience metrics which can result in different figures. KM Media Group’s own analytics shared with Press Gazette for example showed a comparable number of page views but a much higher number of unique users when compared to Ipsos. Press Gazette uses Ipsos for its UK news audience ranking stories to be able to compare across publishers.

From January Ipsos increased the sources of embedded browser traffic (web content viewed within a mobile app) counted in its data. Its monthly data now includes webpages consumed within other mobile app embedded browsers such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google News and Instagram, as well as Facebook which has been counted in its data since 2021. Ipsos has also updated its total internet population figures to align with the latest Pamco survey estimates.

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