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May 1, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:14am

BBC was biggest news website globally in early April as new figures suggest interest in Covid-19 has peaked

By William Turvill

Most of the world’s biggest news websites saw their online traffic drop off in early April after interest in Covid-19 peaked in the second half of March, new research seen by Press Gazette shows.

But readership across most of the sites – which include the BBC, New York Times, Guardian and Mail Online – is up significantly when compared to the same period last year. Traffic between 1-14 April was also higher than in the first half of March when fears over the epidemic were spreading.

News websites across the world recorded major jumps in their online traffic in March, prompted by the spread of coronavirus. Recent Press Gazette analysis of Google search data found that interest in the Covid-19 peaked in mid-March and has dropped off in the weeks since. 

The BBC, when adding and together, remained the biggest news website in the first half of April, with around 40m average daily visits between 1-14 April. This was down from an average of 44.5m between 16-31 March, but up from 33.8m during the same period last year.

In the US, CNN’s website is one of the most improved over the last year. According to Similarweb, it attracted an average 31.5m daily views in the first half of April, down slightly from the end of March, but nearly double the 16.1m average it recorded in the same period in 2019.

The New York Times, which has made much of its Covid-19 content free to access, recorded average daily views of 16.9m in the first half of April. This is down from 19.8m in the second half of March, but up 87 per cent year-on-year from 9.1m.

In the UK, The Guardian remained the UK’s biggest newspaper website, with 13.9m average daily views to its rival’s 12m for The Guardian has been boosted by its prominence in Google news searches.

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See below for chart featuring biggest US and UK sites, as well as full Similarweb figures.

Biggest news websites in the world in April 2020

News websites (in order of March traffic figures) March 1 – 15 March 16 – 31 Apr 1 – 14, 2019 Apr 1 – 14, 2020 26,604,717 37,014,337 29,034,014 34,063,922 26,279,818 33,595,058 16,149,056 31,485,862 21,379,198 23,614,189 20,027,738 21,672,880 20,766,829 22,290,162 15,771,620 24,394,544 14,769,230 24,404,453 1,155,397 17,856,567 18,109,630 20,892,958 13,755,826 18,301,616 16,857,490 19,784,691 9,059,546 16,898,120 12,199,423 15,786,683 9,529,624 13,909,768 12,362,391 14,198,743 12,240,991 13,070,883 11,392,582 12,540,041 10,713,529 11,973,503 10,565,704 12,133,737 10,168,281 11,310,852 11,621,822 10,046,861 8,762,780 8,918,260 9,628,727 9,723,886 10,009,966 9,915,318 7,794,989 9,991,479 4,929,238 8,334,360 7,630,918 10,113,555 4,704,764 7,957,516 6,891,713 10,070,796 5,415,938 8,455,074 8,345,539 8,606,919 6,784,863 7,554,711 6,950,179 9,550,472 3,318,966 5,908,190 6,693,390 9,502,251 6,333,909 9,225,678 7,718,076 8,211,131 8,285,267 8,119,654

Picture: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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