Biggest websites in the UK: Top 20 web publishers revealed

BBC reclaims title as biggest domestic online publisher in the UK

Google crime scene

The BBC reclaimed its top spot as the UK’s biggest homegrown publisher by audience in December, according to data from the industry-recognised UK standard for online audience measurement.

The public broadcaster saw a 5% month-on-month growth in audience reaching 39.8m internet users age over 15 (80% reach) in December overtaking Reach, which ranked higher than the BBC last month according to UKOM endorsed Ipsos iris data.

Reach’s large portfolio of digital brands, which include the Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, saw a small 0.2% drop in audience compared to November, reaching 38m people (76% reach).

Topping the table were the same four US tech giants that have led the ranking since Press Gazette began publishing figures on the reach of online organisations in the UK in October. The UK’s biggest brand by audience, Google owner Alphabet, reached 49.5m people -almost everyone who used the internet in the UK. 

Meta (previously known as Facebook), which reached 48.7m people (98% reach), and Amazon (46m people, 92% reach) were the only two other brands to cross the 90% threshold. 

The NHS sites continued their strong month-on-month increase in audience. The health provider’s sites reached 7% more people (audience of 39.8m) in December than in November as people are keen for information on the evolving pandemic. 

In addition to the BBC and Reach, four other news publishers made it into the top 20 list. Mail Metro Media (ranked 12th) reached 31.1m people (62% of internet users), News UK (ranked 13th) reached 30.1m (60%), Sky News (ranked 16) reached 27m people (54%), and The Independent and The Evening Standard brands (ranked 18) were accessed by 22.8m (46% reach).

The Independent and Evening Standard along with the NHS sites saw the greatest month-on-month audience growth (7%). 

Meta was the online organisation with which most time was spent in  December. UK adults spent over 55bn minutes with the organisation's sites, which include Facebook and Instagram.

The BBC was the most-engaged-with name in news, with audiences spending 8.8bn minutes with its digital properties last month. It was followed by Mail Metro Media (2.1bn minutes) whose Mail Online brand was the most engaged with newsbrand in the UK according to the last Pamco release earlier in January. Looking only at newsbrands, it was closely followed by Sky News (1.8bn minutes) and Reach (1.6bn minutes). 

When it comes to average time spent per person with the brand, BBC sites came out ahead of Amazon and Microsoft. Despite the US giants’ significantly larger reach compared to the BBC, online audiences spent on average 222 minutes  with the BBC’s content compared to 206 for Amazon sites and 199 minutes for Microsoft. 

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 which are tagged so all devices visiting the site can be identified and logged.

This is the latest in a new monthly series from Press Gazette that will track audience and reach of the UK’s leading online brands.

Read previous months' coverage below.

November 2021

Reach overtook the BBC to become the homegrown publisher with the biggest audience in the UK, according to data from the UKOM endorsed UK standard for online audience measurement.

Reach’s total audience across national brands including the Mirror, Express, Star and Daily Record as well as dozens of regional sites grew by 0.2% month-on-month to hit 38.1m people (76% reach) in November.

This put it ahead of the BBC (38m people) whose sites saw a 2.7% drop in audience compared to last month. Last month BBC was the leading publisher in the UK. 

Both publishers were, however, once again eclipsed by four US tech giants which were the only website publishers to reach more than 40m people in the UK in November. Alphabet, which includes Google’s home page for search and YouTube, was the leading online organisation reaching 49.5m people aged over 15 in the UK – 99% of people in the country who used the internet.

Sites by Meta - previously known as Facebook - which include Facebook and Instagram were the second most popular, reaching 48.8m people (98% of internet users over 15). Amazon reached 45.9m (reach of 92%) and Microsoft reached 40.6m people (reach of 81%). 

Last month six organisations reached more than 75% of web users. In November NHS websites expanded this list of six sites to seven as more than 37m people (75% of internet users aged over 15) accessed an NHS site in November, likely spurred on by increasing interest in information about Covid-19 since the emergence of the Omicron variant.  

Reach, the highest-ranked homegrown site, was also the highest ranked newsbrand in November, according to the Ipsos iris metric for measuring online audiences. 

Three other newspaper brands made it into the top 20 - the same three as October. Mail Metro Media (whose online brands include MailOnline, Metro.co.uk and inews.co.uk) reached 30.8m people (62% reach), News UK sites were accessed by 29.2m people (59% reach) and The Independent and Evening Standard reached 21.4m people (43% reach). All three newsbrands saw month-on-month falls in audience with The Independent and Evening Standard recording the biggest drop at 5.7%. Reach was the only newsbrand in the top 20 to not see a smaller audience in November than October. 

Media company Hearst, which counts Cosmopolitan.com and Harpersbazaar.com in its large portfolio of brands, reached 21.2m people (43%). Last month, Hearst saw the biggest month-on-month increase in visitors of any organisation among the top 20. In November however, the company’s audience shrank by 4.4%.  

Future recorded one of the biggest month-on-month audience increases of the top 20 - second to only Sainsbury’s. The magazine publisher and media company’s online audience grew 6.8% in November to reach 20.9m. 

October 2021

Four US tech giants are the only website publishers to reach more than 40m people in the UK each month, according to data from the UKOM endorsed UK standard for online audience measurement.

Alphabet websites which include Google's home page for search  and YouTube reached 49.7 million people aged over 15 in the UK in October - everyone in the country who used the internet.

Facebook sites which include Facebook and Instagram were the second most popular, reaching 48.7 million people (98% of internet users over 15), while Amazon reached 45.7 million (reach of 92%).

Only two other organisations reached more than 75% of web users.  Microsoft sites reached 41.1 million people (82%), while 39.1 million people (78% of internet users over 15) accessed a BBC site in October. The BBC was also the highest-ranked news provider, although the data includes visitors to all BBC sites - not just its news pages.

The second-highest ranked news provider was Reach whose sites were accessed by up 38 million visitors (76% reach).

Three other newsbrands made it into the top 20, according to the Ipsos iris metric for measuring online audiences. Mail Metro Media (whose online brands include MailOnline, Metro.co.uk and inews.co.uk) reached 31.5 million people (63% reach), News UK sites were accessed by 29.6 million people over 15 (59% reach) and The Independent and Evening Standard reached 22.7 million people (45% reach).

Media company Hearst, which counts Cosmopolitan.com and Harpersbazaar.com in its large portfolio of brands) reached 22.2 million people (45%). The company saw the biggest month-on-month increase in visitors among the top 20 (October's audience was 16% higher than September).  The only other top 20 organisation to record a significant audience rise compared to September was The Independent and the Evening Standard (up 8%).

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *