View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
March 23, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:07am

Top 50 largest news websites in the world: Sputnik, Drudge and Fox see biggest traffic falls in February

By Aisha Majid

Traffic to the world’s 50 most popular news websites fell by almost a quarter (24%) between January and February, according to Press Gazette’s latest analysis of traffic to the most popular news websites.

Global visits to the top 50 English-language news sites combined fell to 6.6 billion in February, down from 8.7 billion the previous month, according to data from web analytics company SimilarWeb, with traffic nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

Numbers were significantly lower than the 9.4 billion peak in visits during last November, the month of the US election.

Yet, while visits were down compared to January, traffic was still 14% up year-on-year.

A number of right-leaning and alternative sites saw both the biggest individual drops and gains globally in February.

Pro-Trump US website Newsmax was the fastest growing site year-on-year with a 337% surge in clicks and views up from 8.5 million to 37.2 million.

Content from our partners
Pugpig named best media technology partner of 2024 by AOP
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange

At the other end of the list, the Drudge Report, Breitbart News and Fox News were among the sites that shed the biggest proportion of their audiences compared to last February.

Influential conservative news aggregation site the Drudge Report saw its year-on-year visits fall by 41% from 71.4 million to 42.4 million, while visits to Fox News were down 22% to 261.9 million.

Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik was also among the sites that saw the biggest year-on-year drop in visits. Although the site made it into the top 50 for the first time since Press Gazette began publishing SimilarWeb rankings, entering in 38th place, monthly visits were down 34% from 73.9 million in February 2020 to 48.9 million.

Views to the Drudge Report, Breitbart, Sputnik and Newsmax together accounted for 3% (176 million) of the 6.6 billion total visits to the top 50 sites in February.

A number of the fastest growing sites identified in Press Gazette’s last analysis including the Epoch Times, which is backed by the Fulang Gong sect, right-wing YouTube alternative BitChute, and pro-Trump The Gateway Pundit, fell out of the top 50 altogether.

As in previous months, the rest of the top 50 is primarily made up of mainstream news websites from the US, UK, Canada and Australia, which command the bulk of visits.

BBC.co.uk and BBC.com combined once again came out on top with 1.2 billion website visits in February which, while 16% lower than the previous month’s figures, is up 23% year-on-year.

Next most-viewed was CNN with 710 million sessions on its websites (CNN.com and edition.CNN.com), although this was 37% lower than the 1.1 billion visits that CNN’s two sites received in January.

The next largest websites belonged to the New York Times (379 million visits, up 16% year-on-year), Yahoo Finance (330 million, up 102%), Mail Online (310 million, down 2%), the Guardian (296 million views, down 3%) and Fox News (262 million, down 22%).

Most sites in the top 50 continued to report year-on-year growth in views, but every outlet except Yahoo Finance saw a month-on-month fall in traffic compared to January.

Where does major news website traffic come from?

The SimilarWeb report for Press Gazette also examined the source of online traffic for the largest English-language news outlets.

The majority of visits to large websites continued to be either direct – i.e. web users go straight to them – or originate from online searches.

The Drudge Report came out on top for direct visits (90%), followed by Newsmax (82%) and Breitbart (76%). Among the sites with the lowest proportion of users arriving directly were US News (10%) and Forbes (14%) which instead received most traffic through organic search – i.e. unpaid search results.

Top for organic search were US News (87%), Cosmopolitan (85%), Hello magazine (74%) and Forbes (74%).

Paid search, when site owners pay to appear high up in search engine results, accounted for very few clicks to the top news sites. Only a handful of news sites, among them Bloomberg and Australia’s ABC and News.com.au, used paid search at all. Even then, paid results accounted for less than 1% of their traffic.

Facebook was the main social media referrer for most news websites coming out as the number one source for 25% of sites – putting it significantly ahead of second-place Twitter which represented the top source of social media referrals for 15% of sites. Twitter and Reddit were more commonly the second-most popular social media network referrer.

Topics in this article :

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network