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

Top 50 US news sites in September 2021: CNN, MSN, Fox and NYT out in front

Once again celebrity and entertainment news site Gazillions.com came out on top as the fastest-growing site in the US, according to Press Gazette’s analysis of traffic to the most popular English-language news websites.

There were 19.5 million visits to the new entertainment site – an increase of 870% – according to data from web analytics firm Similarweb. 

It was followed by standardnews.com, which is owned by US-based Spine Media (32 million visits – up 440%).

As seen in previous months, right-wing sites also performed well in terms of year-on-year growth in visits. Third-place theepochtimes.com had 19.6 million visits (up 162%) while there were  29.5 million visits to pro-Trump nexsmax.com (up 144%). Both sites score badly when it comes to website rating tool NewsGuard's trust scores.

The highest-ranked British site for year-on-year growth was The Sun.  The UK tabloid's digital edition the-sun.com was the fifth fastest growing news site in the US counting 16 million visits - a year-on-year increase of 65%.

Recent Axel Springer acquisition Politico.com saw the largest year-on-year fall in traffic  (37.8 million visits - down 42%). As in recent months,  theatlantic.com has also seen year-on-year traffic declines (22.7 million visits - down 40%) while visits to politics-focused thehill.com were down 39% to 38.3 million. Like-for-like comparisons will be impacted by the surge in traffic to coronavirus-related content last year.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, standardnews.com came out on top with an increase of 293% on the number of visits in August. Only four other sites (theverge.com, usmagazine.com, cbsnews.com and the-sun.com) saw monthly traffic growth although of far less proportions.

The website of cable broadcaster CNN continues to have by far the biggest audience share overall and enjoys a similar position of dominance as the BBC in the UK. Cnn.com was the most visited site in September with 378.7 million visits. It was followed by MSN.com (329.3 million visits), foxnews.com (266.3 million) and nytimes.com (252.7 million visits). Press Gazette has ranked MSN and Yahoo! News for the first time this month. 

The BBC’s sites was the only British site in the top ten when it came to volume of visits. Similarweb analytics however include visits to BBC’s main homepage - not just its news page. 

As in previous months, only a minority (15 in September) of the top 50 sites saw year-on-year traffic increases. 

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.

August 2021

Celebrity and entertainment news site Gazillions.com was again the fastest-growing site in the US, according to Press Gazette’s analysis of traffic to the most popular English-language news websites.

Right-wing sites also performed well in terms of year-on-year growth in visits.

Gazillions.com, which launched at the end of 2019, was the single fastest-growing site according to data from web analytics firm Similarweb. In the year to August 2021 visits were up more than 1,262% (a more than 10-fold increase) from 2.1 million in August 2020 to 29.2 million in August 2021 as the new site picked up audience.

It was followed in second place by theepochtimes.com (21.1 million visits - up 186%) and pro-Trump nexsmax.com (33.1 million visits - up 166%). Both sites have regularly appeared among the leading five sites for year-on-year growth in our ranking and their growth reflects the increasing audience to many right-leaning sites in recent years.

The US digital edition of British tabloid The Sun also stayed in the top five for another month. There were 15.9 million visits (an increase of 38%) to the-sun.com.

At the foot of the list, sites that saw large year-on-year falls in traffic included forbes.com (56.1 million visits - down 38%), politico.com (46.1 million visits - down 36%), cbsnews.com (25.7 million visits - down 36%) and thehill.com (45 million visits - down 33%). Like-for-like comparisons will be impacted by the surge in traffic to coronavirus-related content last year.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, gazillions.com also came out on top with an increase of 65% on the number of visits in July. Reuters.com also performed well with 32.9 million visits (an increase of  14%) as did atlantablackstar.com which specialises in news and culture aimed at a black audience (25.3 million visits in August -up 14%).

The website of cable broadcaster CNN continues to have by far the biggest audience share overall. Cnn.com was the most visited site in June with 423.5 million visits. This was followed by foxnews.com (284.9 million visits). and nytimes.com (271.1 million visits).

The BBC’s sites and Mail Online were the two British sites in the top ten for volume of visits. Similarweb analytics however include visits to BBC’s main homepage - not just its news page. 

As in previous months, only a minority (12 in August) of the top 50 sites saw year-on-year traffic increases. Unlike recent months however, mainstream news sites featured in the list this time with the-sun.com, apnews.com, usnews.com, finance.yahoo.com, wsj.com, newsweek.com and reuters.com recording year-on-year growth. 

July 2021

For the second month in a row, recently launched celebrity and lifestyle site Gazillions.com was the fastest growing site in the US, while right-wing sites also performed well in terms of year-on-year growth in visits.

Gazillions.com which brands itself as news focused on “pop culture, luxurious lifestyle, and global entertainment” was the single fastest-growing site according to data from web analytics firm Similarweb. In the year to July 2021. Visits were up more than 542% (over 5 times) from 692,361 in June 2020 to 2.8 million in July 2021.

It was followed in second place by theepochtimes.com (23.5 million visits - up 72%) and pro-Trump nexsmax.com (33.5 million visits - up 165%). Both sites were among the leading five sites for year-on-year growth in June’s ranking. Their growth reflects a surge in visits to right-leaning sites as a whole over the last year.

This month, the US digital edition of British tabloid The Sun, also entered the top five. The-sun.com racked up 18.1 million visits (up 54%), putting it in fifth place for year-on-year growth in visits although it came in at 47 out of 50 for volume of visits.

At the foot of the list, the BBC’s digital properties BBC.com and BBC.co.uk saw the biggest relative year-on-year fall in traffic with visits down 18% to 108.2 million - although BBC sites did well in terms of overall number of visits, coming in at six out of 50). Other sites that saw large falls in traffic compared to July 2020 were Forbes.com (visits decreased by 46% to 53.2 million) and political news site the hill.com (visits were down by 39% to 43 million). Like-for-like comparisons will be impacted by the surge in traffic to coronavirus-related content last year.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, atlantablackstar which specialises in news and culture aimed at a black audience was the fastest-growing site in July 2021 compared to June 2021. The site which takes an African American perspective on politics racked up 22.2 million visits in July (up 16%). The-sun.com also did well in terms of month-on-month growth with visits up 29% to 18.1 million. Gazillions.com, despite showing strong year-on-year growth saw a huge month-on-month traffic fall in July. There were 52% fewer visits to the site in July than June.

Despite the growth of some smaller players, the website of cable broadcaster CNN continues to have by far the biggest audience share overall. Cnn.com was the most visited site in June with 411.7 million visits. This was followed by foxnews.com (274.2 million visits). and nytimes.com (261.4 million visits), which have in previous months jostled for second and third places. The sites of two British publishers also made it into the top 10 leading sites for volume of visits. BBC.co.uk and BBC.com racked up 108.2 million visits, while there were 97.5 million visits to dailymail.co.uk.

There were significantly fewer visits to the current top 50 sites in July this year compared to the same month in 2020. The leading 50 sites this month counted a combined 3.1 billion visits - a decrease of 19% compared to the combined 3.9 million visits to the leading 50 sites in July 2020. As was the case in June, only 10 of the top 50 sites saw year-on-year traffic increases. Most of these were niche sites catering to specialist audiences or sites with a strong conservative or right-wing bias.

June 2021

Recently launched celebrity and lifestyle site Gazillions.com was the fastest growing site in the US in June with right-leaning news sites also making strong showings.

Gazillions.com, which launched in late 2019, was the number one fastest growing site, according to data from web analytics company Similarweb. Visits were up over 5,000% (a more than 50-fold increase) from 692,361 in June 2020 to 37.1m in June 2021.

The rest of the top five sites for year-on-year growth were right-leaning sites that have seen considerable traffic increases in recent years.

The second fastest growing site, pro-Trump Newsmax, saw visits increase by 196% to 31.7m, while visits to next in place theepochtimes.com were up 186% to 22.5m. Alternative video news platform bitchute.com saw a 109% increase in audience to 20.9m, while visits to the fifth fastest growing site, thegatewaypundit.com, increased to 33.4m – up 61%.

At the foot of the list, mainstream sites featured heavily among the outlets with the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic. Forbes.com saw the biggest fall in traffic as visits decreased by 46% to 51.6m. Meanwhile, visits to The Atlantic’s site were down by 44% to 21m and visits to cbsnews.com were down by 43% to 26.3m.

Like-for-like comparisons will be impacted by the huge traffic to coronavirus-related content a year ago.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, Gazillions.com again came out on top. Visits to the site were 141% higher than in May, when there were 15.3m visits. Tech news site theverge.com also saw more traffic in June with visits up 18% compared with 27.5m visits the previous month.

Thegatewaypundit.com was the only other site that saw a more than 10% traffic increase compared with May.

Despite the growth of some smaller players, the website of cable broadcaster CNN continues to have by far the biggest audience share overall. CNN.com was the most visited site in June with 392.5m visits. This was followed by nytimes.com (257.5m visits) and foxnews.com (257.3m visits), which has significantly  narrowed the gap on the site of the New York Times.

UK sites BBC.co.uk and BBC.com also made it into the top 10 with 108.1m visits, as did dailymail.co.uk with 92m visits in June.

While CNN.com regularly tops US lists for number of visits, its lead over its closest competitors is smaller than the BBC’s relative lead over competing news sources in the UK, according to our analysis.

Taken as whole, there were significantly fewer visits to the current top 50 sites this month compared with June 2020. June’s leading 50 sites counted a combined 3.1bn visits compared with 3.8bn visits in the same month last year (a decrease of 16%).

Only ten of the top 50 sites saw year-on-year traffic increases. These were gazillions.com, newsmax.com, theepochtimes.com, bitchute.com, thegatewaypundit.com, usnews.com, finance.yahoo.com, apnews.com, people.com and usmagazine.com.

All 50 sites combined, however, saw slightly more traffic in June (3.09m visits) compared with May (3.06m) – although the increase in visits is less than 1%.

April 2021

Right-wing news sites saw the biggest year-on-year growth in the US in April.

The Epoch Times was the single fastest growing site according to data from web analytics company Similarweb. Visits to another pro-Trump site, Newsmax, increased by 171% to 29.4m, while visits to right-wing video platform BitChute were up 150% to 19.3m.

Also in the top five for year-on-year growth was far-right site thegatewaypundit.com, whose founder and editor-in-chief, Jim Hoft, was permanently suspended from Twitter in February for sharing false news about the US election. The site saw visits increase by 41% to 25.5m.

Among the sites with the biggest year-on-year falls in traffic were several mainstream national news brands and business titles. Forbes.com saw the biggest fall in traffic as visits decreased by 54% to 53.2m. Meanwhile, visits to The Atlantic’s site were down by 52% to 21m and visits to newsweek.com were down by 50% to 22.7m. Like for like comparisons will be impacted by the huge traffic to coronavirus-related content a year ago.

When it comes to monthly growth in visits, investigative tabloid RawStory came out on top. Visits to the site were 4% higher at 17.7m in April. The New York Post and the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Wire also saw small traffic increases of 1%.

The website of cable broadcaster CNN has by far the biggest audience share overall. Cnn.com was the most visited site in April with 410.9m visits. This was followed by nytimes.com (273.9m visits) and foxnews.com (244.1m visits). British sites BBC.co.uk and BBC.com also made it into the top 10 with 113.1m visits, as did dailymail.co.uk with 89.1m visits in April.

Taken as whole, there were significantly fewer visits to the current top 50 sites that month compared with April 2020. The current top 50 sites racked up a combined 3bn visits in April compared with 4.1bn visits in the same month last year. The only sites among the top 50 that saw year-on-year traffic increases were theepochtimes.com, newsmax.com, bitchute.com, usmagazine.com, thegatewaypundit.com, apnews.com, usnews.com, startribune.com and people.com.

Compared with last month, there were 7% fewer visits to the leading 50 sites combined in April (3.1bn compared with 3.3bn in March).

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

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