Most popular websites for news in the UK: Monthly top 50 listing

Top 50 UK news sites: Most saw year-on-year Trump slump in traffic in October

Microsoft’s news platform MSN was the only major news site among the top 50 to record year-on-year growth in the number of visits, according to Press Gazette’s ranking of the biggest English language news websites in the UK.

This time last year the US election and the expected imposition of a new coronavirus lockdown dominated the headlines.

The rest of the top ten news sites by volume of visits in October, all saw year-on-year falls in traffic, according to data from web analytics firm Similarweb.

Of this leading group of sites, Mirror.co.uk saw the biggest fall (visits were down 30% year-on-year at 49.7 million). The Sun Online (54.9 million visits- down 28%), Sky News (35.2 million visitors - down 27%) and The Guardian's site ( 111.5 million visits - down 27%) also saw significant falls of over 25%.

The BBC was again the leading site by far for number of visits in October (619.9 million) - counting five times as many as to second-place dailymail.co.uk (133.1 million visitors). In third place was theguardian.com while the Express site came in fourth place with 70.1 million visits last month.

Of the leading  five sites by volume of visits, all have seen a slump in visits over 2021, although the Guardian saw a small 1% uptick in traffic between September and October.

Comparing year-on-year growth in audience for all top 50 sites, regional and local news sites featured prominently among the sites with the fastest growth, making up five of the top ten: mylondon.news (7.6 million visits in October - up 29%), kentonline.co.uk (5.9 million - up 9%), leicestermercury.co.uk (5.4 million - up 7%),  examinerlive.co.uk (6.7 million visitors - up 7%) and walesonline.co.uk (15.8 million - up 6%). The five sites are all owned by the UK’s largest regional publisher Reach which has in recent years seen rapid growth for its online regional brands.

In line with the global picture, a minority (10) of sites saw year-on-year traffic increases compared to last October. Year-on-year comparisons are affected by the surge in interest in digital news during the pandemic and the run-up to the US election.

Similarweb generates its traffic data by applying machine learning and modelling to the 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.

Press Gazette last month revised its ranking to now include MSN and Yahoo! News among the sites it analyses.

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.

September 2021

For the second month running, celebrity and showbiz brand Entertainment Daily was the fastest-growing news website in the UK in September with year-on-year visits up 123% from 1.9 million to 4.2 million in September. 

It was followed by inews.co.uk which saw visits up 51% to 9.7 million. This month's data continues a strong run of growth for the Daily Mail and General Trust-owned brand which was July's fastest-growing site in the UK.

Next were two further sites owned by Reach. MyLondon was the third fastest-growing site in August with visits up 50% from 5.4 million to 8.1 million. It was followed by  Examiner Live (7.5 million visits - up 35%). 

Two other regional sites (kentonline.co.uk and walesonline.co.uk) also featured in the top ten fastest-growing sites year-on-year.

Established international and news brands were among those that saw the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic. Visits to CNN's sites (cnn.com and edition.cnn.com) were down by 33% to 13.9 million, while visits to newyorktimes.com were 28% less than in September 2020 at 7.7 million. Visits to the Sun.co.uk were down 29% to 56.9 million.  Like-for-like comparisons will be affected by the surge in traffic to news sites in 2020 due to a particularly intense news cycle last year.

Growing fastest month-on-month was the website of Reach-owned Hull Daily Mail  - visits to the site were 5% higher than in August (4.4 million visits in September). MSN.com saw similar growth in visits (up 5% to 44.1 million). Only a handful of sites however, saw more traffic in September compared to August (among them ft.com, heraldscotland.com, entertainmentdaily.co.uk, walesonline.co.uk and nottinghampost.com).

This month Press Gazette's analysis includes for the first time visits to MSN.com and Yahoo! News.

When it comes to the leading sites for volume of visits, the BBC’s digital properties, bbc.com and bbc.co.uk, remained ahead in the UK.  The two sites together racked up 628.5 million visits in September. Second-placed dailymail.co.uk counted 137.6 million visits during the month while third-placed theguardian.com had 110.3 million visits. Similarweb data for the BBC however includes visits to both the BBC’s main website as well as BBC News. Its data for MSN similarly covers visits to the portal, rather than just its news section.

Half (25) of the current top 50 sites had year-on-year traffic increases, while half saw a decline. 

August 2021

Celebrity and showbiz brand Entertainment Daily was the fastest-growing news website in the UK in August with year-on-year visits up 120% from 1.9 million to 4.1 million. 

It was followed by last month’s fastest-growing website, the Daily Mail and General Trust-owned inews.co.uk which saw visits up 66% to 10.1 million.

The third fastest-growing was aljazeera.com which was up 29% to 4.6 million visits according to Press Gazette’s exclusive ranking of the country’s most popular news websites.

As in previous months, visits to several local and regional news sites were also significantly higher year-on-year. Reach-owned MyLondon was the fourth fastest-growing site in August with visits up 27% from 6.4 million to 8.2 million, while another Reach property WalesOnline was sixth (16.4 million visits - up 19%).

Edp24.co.uk, examinerlive.co.uk, thenorthernecho.co.uk, leicestermercury.co.uk and kentonline.co.uk were other local titles among the top 15 sites for year-on-year growth in August. 

At the other end of the table, buzzfeed.com saw the biggest year-on-year fall with visits down 30% to 6.1 million. It was followed by nytimes.com to which visits were down 28% to 8.2 million. 

Growing fastest month-on-month was the website of Qatari international broadcaster Al Jazeera - visits to aljazeera.com were 28% higher than in July (3.5 million visits that month). Completing the top five for monthly gains were four Reach sites: dailyrecord.co.uk (14.6 million visits - up 8%), Leicestershire Live (6.4 million - up 7%), dailystar.co.uk (25.7 million - up 7%) and Yorkshire Live (7.6 million visits - up 2%). 

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 again. The two sites together racked up 663.6 million visits in August. Second-placed dailymail.co.uk counted 145.5 million visits during the month while third-placed theguardian.com had 117.7 million visits. Similarweb data for the BBC however includes visits to both the BBC’s main website as well as BBC News.

As in previous months, rounding out the top five for number of visits are express.co.uk and thesun.co.uk.

Of the current top 50 sites, 20 had year-on-year traffic increases, while 30 saw a decline month-on-month. Just 11 sites saw more visits in August compared to July.

July 2021

Daily Mail and General Trust website inews.co.uk was the fastest growing UK news website in July with year-on-year visits up 87% from 7.2 million to 13.5 million, according to data from Similarweb.

As in June, local and regional news sites also made strong showings when it came to year-on-year growth in audience.

Reach-owned Wales Online was the second-fastest growing site in July with visits up 61% from 12.2 million to 19.5 million, while alternative video news platform, Bitchute was the next fastest growing site (3.9 million visits - up 55%), according to data from web analytics firm Similarweb.

Eight local and regional titles made the top 15 fastest growing sites. Reach-owned mylondon.news was the sixth fastest growing site with year-on-year visits up 49% from 5.7 million to 8.5 million. It was followed by Examiner Live, one of several "Live" brands launched by Reach in recent years, with year-on-year visits up 39% from 5.4 million to 7.4 million.

The site got a boost after it was rolled into the company's broader Yorkshire Live brand. Other local offerings in the top 15 included kentonline.co.uk and Reach brands liverpoolecho.co.uk and manchestereveningnews.co.uk.

Among the sites with the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic were several US newsbrands. Visits to the CNN”s sites were down 37% to 15.9 million in July, while visits to nytimes.com were down 26% to 8.4 million.

When it comes to the monthly growth in visits, inews.co.uk was again the leading site with visits up 48% on June 2021’s figure of 9.1 million. Also in the top five was kentonline.com (6.5 million - up 36%), manchestereveningnews.co.uk (30.9 million - up 29%), hellomagazine.com (26.4 million - up 30%) and thescotsman.com (6.3 million - up 2%).

Leading the list for volume of visits were the BBC’s digital properties, bbc.com and bbc.co.uk - clear leaders. The two sites together racked up 747.3 million visits in July. Second-placed dailymail.co.uk counted 156.8 million visits during the month - a little over a fifth of the BBC’s figures. Similarweb data for the BBC, includes visits to both the BBC’s main website as well as BBC News.

As in previous months, rounding out the top five for number of visits are theguardian.com, express.co.uk and thesun.co.uk.

Taken as a whole, the 50 leading news sites in July had a combined 1.8 billion visits, which is in line with the total in recent months. Year-on-year traffic is, however, slightly up - by six per cent. Of the current top 50 sites, most (33) had year-on-year traffic increases, while 17 saw a decline. The picture month-on-month is similar: 38 sites saw a gain in visits compared to June, while 12 had less visits in July.

June 2021

Local and regional news platforms dominated the list of sites that saw the biggest year-on-year growth in audience in the UK last month.

The website of Scottish free-to-air broadcaster STV was the fastest-growing site between June 2020 and June 2021, according to data from web analytics company Similarweb, which combines traffic to both news.stv.tv and stv.tv.

11 other local and regional titles made the top 15, including seven from the UK’s biggest regional publisher Reach.

Examiner Live, which was rolled into Yorkshire Live and is one of several “Live” brands launched by Reach in recent years, was the second fastest growing site, with year-on-year visits up 64% from 4.6m to 7.5m.

It was followed in third place by celebrity and entertainment-focused news site entertainmentdaily.com, which saw visits increase by 63% from 2.9m to 4.7m.

Other Reach sites in the top 15 included national titles walesonline.co.uk and dailyrecord.com, as well as cornwalllive.com, birminghammail.co.uk, liverpoolecho.co.uk and mylondon.news. Two Newsquest sites (lancashiretelegraph.co.uk and telegraphandargus.com) also made the leading 15 sites for growth.

Among the sites with the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic were several US newsbrands that had benefitted from a particularly buoyant 2020 for traffic due to the US election and the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Visits to the site of The New York Times were down 33% to 8.5m, while visits to cnn.com and edition.cnn.com were down 43% to 15.5m.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, stv.com was again the leading site with visits up 167% on May’s figure of 2m. Also in the top five was cornwalllive.com (5.5m, up 16%), devonlive.com (5.2m, up 7%), thesun.co.uk (69.5m, up 7%) and walesonline.co.uk (18.2m, up 7%).

As in previous months, the BBC’s sites were the outright leaders for news in the UK. BBC.co.uk and BBC.com together counted 758m visits in June.  Second-placed dailymail.co.uk counted 148.6m visits during the month - five times less than the BBC.

Also in 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 saw very little change on May’s list. The leading 50 sites in June had a combined 1.8bn visits - the same as in May. Overall, year-on-year traffic saw a slight boost with combined visits up 5% compared with June 2020. Of the current top 50 sites, 29 had year-on-year traffic increases, while 12 saw month-on-month gains.

April 2021

Local news sites were among those that saw the biggest year-on-year growth in audience in the UK in April.

Hellomagazine.com was the single fastest growing site according to data from Similarweb, but four Reach titles 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 3.2m to 5.4m. It was followed in third place by another Reach brand, Birmingham Live, which saw visits increase 67% from 8.4m to 14.1m. 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 5.7m. 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 11.2m, while the audience to metro.co.uk was down 37% to 22.4m.

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 15.8m, while the 24.4m 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 4.8m 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 689m visits in April – almost five times more than second-placed dailymail.co.uk, which counted 144m visits during the month.

Rounding out the top five when it comes to number of visits were 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 with March. The leading 50 sites racked up 1.7bn visits between them in April – 6% lower than the previous month. Overall, year-on-year traffic saw a slight boost with combined visits up 6% compared with April 2020. Of the current top 50 sites, 27 had year-on-year traffic increases, while just six saw month-on-month gains.

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

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