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August 24, 2023

Most popular news apps in the UK: Paywalled Times and Telegraph report highest time spent per user

Press Gazette's quarterly ranking of the most popular news apps in the UK, using data from Ipsos iris.

By Aisha Majid

The Apple News app was the most popular news app in the UK in July, pulling further ahead of the BBC News app compared to three months before, according to data from Ipsos iris.

The Apple News app, which comes preloaded on iPhones was used by 13.5 million people in July, an increase of 4% quarter-on-quarter compared to April. Apple’s iPhone accounts for some 40% of the smartphone market in the UK.

The second-placed BBC News app meanwhile was used by 12.4 million people, a slight fall of 1% on the last quarter, widening the gap with Apple News. The BBC News app had a refresh in July, its first significant update since 2015, and although some users complained the corporation said it was necessary to “modernise its look and feel”.

The Apple News and BBC News apps continue to be the only two news apps used by more than a quarter of the UK population aged over 15. The Apple News app reached 27% of people in the UK aged over 15 while the BBC News app reached 25%.

The Sky News app maintained its position as the third most popular news app, used by 3.1 million people in July. Usage of the telecommunications giant’s news app was up 15% quarter-on-quarter and 11% year-on-year.

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Fourth was The Guardian's app (2.2 million users), which overtook Axel Springer-owned Upday (2.1 million users) which had been ranked fourth in our last update in May.

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Money Saving Expert, which we have included in our ranking for the first time, entered our ranking in ninth place (one million users).

To draw up our ranking, Press Gazette used Ipsos' list of the top 1,000 apps in the UK by audience size and selected those that, in our view, have a reasonable general or specialist journalistic offering, whether that content is original or aggregated from other sources. Sports news apps were ranked separately (see below).

  1. Apple News (13.5m)
  2. BBC News (12.4m)
  3. Sky News (3.1m)
  4. The Guardian (2.2m)
  5. Upday for Samsung (2.1m)
  6. Google News (1.8m)
  7. Mail Online (1.8m)
  8. AOL - News, Mail & Video (1.1m)
  9. Money Saving Expert (1m)
  10. The Telegraph UK (818,986)

Of the 25 apps on our list, twelve grew year-on-year with aggregator Press Reader seeing the biggest rise in audience (372,549 users in July, up 398%).

It was followed by Mail+ (280,792 users, up 130%) and the Daily Express (197, 649 up 120%). Mail+'s year-on-year increase figure should, however, be treated with caution as the Mail+ iOS app audience was under-reported for July 2022 meaning the true increase could be lower.

GB News’ app meanwhile saw the biggest quarter-on-quarter gain (audience of 293,094, up 97%). The broadcaster’s digital chief told Press Gazette earlier this year that GB News had ambitions to become the UK’s number one news channel by 2028.

The apps whose audience fell most year-on-year were Upday (down 42%) and Google News (1.8 million, down 26%).

While the best-ranked app Apple News is an aggregator, the UK list continues to be dominated by apps belonging to single brands. Best-ranked of these was BBC News (rank two), followed by Sky News and the Guardian in third and fourth.

Apps continue to command much smaller audiences than newsbrand websites. The UK reach of the Sky News app, for example, was 6% of the population in July compared to 37% for the website and app according to the latest brand level data from Ipsos iris. Similarly, the reach of The Guardian's app was 4% compared to 42% for the digital brand as a whole.

Engagement increased for many news apps

Of the ten news apps with which users spent most time in July, six saw an increase in minutes spent with their content, with Mail+ seeing the biggest year-on-year increase (761 minutes, up 256% year-on-year), although as noted earlier year-on-year comparisons for this app should be taken with caution. It was followed by GB News (10.2 million minutes, up 171%).

Topping the list for overall time spent was BBC News (2.3 billion minutes in July, up 18% year-on-year), followed by Apple News (1.4 billion minutes, up 5%).

The Times and Sunday Times however led for time spent per user (483 minutes), closely followed by another paywalled app, The Telegraph (467 minutes).

UK sports news apps ranked: BBC Sport top

Among sports news apps, the BBC Sport app reached the largest audience (4.2 million users). It was followed by Sky Sports (1.8 million) with a further gap before third best placed Live Score on 762,168 users.

Although many users utilise sports apps to stream matches and sporting events, we have included all apps that, in our view, have a reasonable sports journalism offering.

Ipsos iris replaced Comscore as the industry-recognised data 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 measure website and app usage passively.

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

This is the latest in a quarterly series from Press Gazette that tracks the audience and reach of the UK’s leading news apps.

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Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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