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December 9, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:51am

Pamco audience data: The Sun is most-read UK news brand as sector sees strong year on year growth

By Charlotte Tobitt

UK national news brand websites have seen “incredibly strong growth” from last year, with claims this reflects the “value placed in trusted” sources during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest Pamco data shows that 3m more people were using national news websites every day in September – 21.5m – compared to the same time last year. Pamco audits the audiences of leading national and regional newspaper titles and magazines.

The total digital news sector, encompassing nationals and regionals, grew by 30% year-on-year to 32m daily readers.

Jo Allan, managing director at trade association Newsworks, said: “With an extra 3m daily digital readers compared to last year we continue to see incredibly strong growth across our national news brands.

“This positive trend has been consistent throughout the year and once again demonstrates the nation’s appetite for trusted, accurate and reliable news sources throughout the pandemic.”

The latest Pamco readership estimates combine Comscore digital data for September 2020 with print data for April 2019 to March 2020. The print data used is the same as the previous two Pamco releases as the Covid-19 lockdown halted the survey’s usual face-to-face interviewing.

While period-on-period figures fell across the board in June, reflecting the spike in interest in Covid-19 news during March, by September it was a more mixed picture of growth again vs further readership dips.

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UK national newsbrand online readership for September 2020 (Comscore): 

NB: Digital readership for the Telegraph and the i were underreported in June due to a Comscore tagging issue, affecting the % changes. The FT chooses not to be audited by Pamco.

Newsbrand Phone (000) Tablet (000) Desktop (000) Total (not deduped) (000) % change from June 2020
Sun 32772 3092 3740 39604 7%
Mail 26511 2310 4906 33727 -2%
Mirror 27221 2631 2821 32673 1%
Express 22041 2273 3739 28053 -5%
Guardian 19078 1817 5058 25953 -20%
Metro 19598 1710 1567 22875 2%
Independent 16485 1386 2714 20585 -33%
Telegraph 14411 1497 3719 19627 -5%*
Times 12749 2341 1067 16157 20%
Evening Standard 11321 1231 1537 14089 -17%
Daily Star 8608 600 545 9753 -21%
Daily Record 7150 568 545 8263 16%
i 5376 824 808 7008 75%*
The Scotsman 1889 197 492 2578 -37%
The Herald 1531 105 311 1947 32%
Yorkshire Post 1133 92 157 1382 -16%

The Sun remains the biggest national newsbrand online (non-deduped total of 39.6m), although the Guardian had the most desktop readers.

The online figures for every publisher include traffic from at least one third-party platform such as Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, Apple News, Flipboard. Mail Online is notably not signed up to Apple News.

The biggest growth across the summer (between June and September) was seen by The Herald (up 32%) and The Times (20%).

But the Independent lost a third of its readership while the Guardian and Daily Star were each down by a fifth.

[Read more: Two-thirds of Brits say Covid-19 pandemic has made them appreciate journalism more]

All the national newsbrands grew their online presence year-on-year except for the Independent, Telegraph, Guardian, i and Scotsman.

The below figures show the Pamco metric of total brand reach across print and online mediums:

Facebook’s daily users (also including Whatsapp and Instagram) have continued to rise by 25% year-on-year to 36.7m.

However the combined digital news sector across nationals and regionals saw faster growth, up 30% to 32m daily readers.

Google’s daily users dropped by 13% in the past year while its monthly users dropped 6% – meaning the tech giant recorded the only digital readership declines in the table below.

Pamco newsbrand readership estimates for Q3 2020:
Monthly (000s) YoY change Weekly (000s) YoY change Daily (000s) YoY change
% (000s) % (000s) % (000s)
News sector* 49,009 N/A N/A 47,148 N/A N/A 36,729 N/A N/A
News sector digital 44,132 5% 2,026 42,222 11% 4,133 31,989 30% 7,326
National news brands 46,713 N/A N/A 42,534 N/A N/A 27,455 N/A N/A
National news brands digital 41,196 8% 2,991 36,449 8% 2,826 21,470 16% 2,919
National news brands mobile 39,262 9% 3,246 33,731 9% 2,920 18,822 17% 2,704
National news brands print 24,344 N/A N/A 19,598 N/A N/A 10,274 N/A N/A
Facebook (inc. WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram) 44,198 4% 1,631 42,292 8% 3,128 36,683 25% 7,346
Google 38,867 -6% -2,639 33,541 -11% -4,156 22,841 -13% -3,331

*News sector comprises the following titles:

Daily Star, Evening Standard, Daily Express, i, The Independent, Daily Mail, Metro, Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Sunday People, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Observer, Sunday Express, Sun on Sunday, Daily Star Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Mail on Sunday, The Herald, The Scotsman, Yorkshire Post, Daily Record, Birmingham Mail, Bristol Post, Burton Mail, Cambridge Evening News, Coventry Telegraph, Daily Post, Derby Telegraph, Grimsby Telegraph, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Hull Daily Mail, Leicester Mercury, Liverpool Echo, Manchester Evening News, Newcastle Journal, Nottingham Post, Shropshire Star, South Wales Echo, South Wales Evening Post, Stoke The Sentinel, The Chronicle, The Gazette, The Herald, Western Mail, West Midlands Express & Star, Western Daily Press & Western Morning News, Lancashire Evening Post, The Daily Echo – Bournemouth, The Star (Sheffield, Doncaster), Portsmouth News and Sports, Oxford Mail, Southern Daily Echo, Swindon Advertiser, The Argus – Brighton and York – The Press.

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