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April 7, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:08am

News publishers hit new online records with coronavirus coverage

By Freddy Mayhew

Traffic to the Financial Times website has grown 250 per cent year-on-year over the past month as coverage of the coronavirus crisis has broken new records for the daily title.

The FT said the pandemic has resulted in its highest ever levels of consumption and engagement online, smashing previous records set during the EU Referendum.

However it now has 75 per cent more engaged subscribers than in 2016, with 1.09m paying subscribers at the end of last year (up 11 per cent year-on-year), of which a majority are digital subscriptions.

The title said it had seen a ten-fold increase in trial subscriptions in the past three weeks.

A new coronavirus business update email, launched on 11 March, has attracted more than 70,000 subscribers already.

“We’re now focused on retaining those subscribers by showing them more of what the FT offers,” said a spokesperson.

The FT’s Coronavirus Tracker, which charts the daily rise in cases and deaths resulting from Covid-19, has become the news website’s most viewed article of all time.

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It has also made its key coronavirus content free to read, putting it outside its paywall, with the FT’s charts and graphics being “widely viewed and shared across social media”.

Mirror football still well-read despite lockdown

At Reach, which has a network of some 70 national and regional news websites including the Mirror, Express and Star titles, said it has had more than 10m page views above average during the pandemic.

Traffic to is up 60 per cent year-on-year, while the Express website had a record month in March, according to a spokesperson.

So far 40,000 people have taken up the publisher’s free home delivery offer across its national daily and Sunday titles, including those in Scotland.

A spokesperson for Reach said: “While our coverage of the coronavirus crisis is hugely important, our editors are also focused on providing that essential link to the outside world for their readers, whether it’s through book content, puzzle pull-outs or entertainment news.

“The Mirror have been producing an especially popular ‘community’ spread in the paper, giving readers a chance to send in their photos and messages.

“Online we’re starting to see topics like TV and showbiz pick up again across the board – people clearly can’t read about coronavirus all the time.

“The Express site for example is seeing a lot of traffic to royal news and personal finance content.

“We’ve also found that the Mirror’s football content remains consistently well-read despite the lockdown, so they’ve been finding different ways to cover it, for example more long reads and interviews.”

Home delivery customer growth

Press Gazette understands more than 200,000 new customers have signed up for home delivery with voucher codes from the UK’s national papers, who are all signed up to Deliver My Newspaper for the first time.

This is on top of the scheme’s 1m or so existing customers.

Telegraph sees podcast and newsletter uplift

The Telegraph’s podcasts have seen a 55 per cent uplift in listeners in March, compared to February. Its recently launched Coronavirus: The Latest podcast is now its most popular ever.

Newsletters have also proven popular, with a 266 per cent rise in the number of subscriptions generated through newsletters in March.

The You Are Not Alone newsletter accompanies its campaign of the same name, which provides “a place for stories of support, community spirit, optimism and social connectivity”.

The campaign has seen strong engagement from during the Covid-19 lockdown and features a daily news Q&A with one of its reporters and a lifestyle web chat with an expert.

This week The Telegraph is running a free six month subscription for NHS staff and launching a Snapchat series titled “So, you’re in a pandemic”.

A Telegraph Media Group spokesperson said: “Over the past weeks we’ve seen unprecedented demand for our journalism as subscribers turn to The Telegraph for trusted and accurate news and analysis during this challenging period.

“In March new subscribers grew by more than 200 per cent year on year and unique visitors to were 50 per cent higher year-on-year.

“Alongside news, there’s been strong engagement across a broad range of topics that provide support, advice and inspiration to our readers at this difficult time.”

Unique browsers nearly double at Guardian

The number of unique browsers to the Guardian website almost doubled from February’s record of 191m to 366m in March, according to internal figures.

The news website recorded 2.17bn page views last month, up 750m on the previous record set in October last year. The Coronavirus has accounted for 70 per cent of all content page views.

The number of regular daily and weekly visitors to the site has also increased by a third each.

The Guardian US and Australia are also setting new online records.

Guardian US recorded its highest-ever traffic in March with unique browsers exceeding 114m, while Guardian Australia passed all existing audience benchmarks with 26.7m unique browsers.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief, the Guardian, said: “This is a time when the world needs evidence-based journalism, practical guidance and rigorous analysis that sifts through the overwhelming volume of information.

“The number of people visiting the Guardian’s digital platforms has risen very strongly and is exceeding all previous records.

“While these are challenging times for media organisations for a number of reasons, financial support for the Guardian from digital readers in every corner of the world has grown in the past few weeks as readers seek out expert journalism and analysis they can trust.”

Read all Press Gazette’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the news industry here

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