Chart of the Week: Which News Properties Are Losing Readers?
Fake news and its negative impact upon mainstream and social media has been dominating headlines all year, but is it actually affecting reader numbers and engagement for mainstream news websites and apps? Verto Analytics looked at the news properties that we featured on our Verto Index in June to gauge whether consumer behavior (among U.S. adults, ages 18 and above) around news content is changing.
Which News Properties Are Losing Readers and their Attention?
According to Verto Analytics data, user numbers and the amount of time they spend per month has remained relatively consistent (or have even shown growth) throughout 2017 for some of the largest news properties, such as the New York Times, CNN, and NBC News. However, the Huffington Post, which was the most popular news property (based on monthly unique users) on our Index, has seen an 18.5% decline in its user base since the beginning of the year, from nearly 60 million unique users in January 2017 down to 48.8 million unique users in September 2017. This trend is also reflected in several smaller news properties, including the Millennial-friendly Forbes and the beleaguered Mashable, which has reportedly been trying to find a buyer as it pivots towards video. Forbes dropped from 30.3 million to 24.4 million monthly users and Mashable’s monthly user numbers dipped from 22.3 million to 14.2 million since the beginning of the year.
User attention – as measured by the amount of time they spend per month on each news property – has also shown a downward trend, especially for the Huffington Post; while the average reader spent more than 29 minutes per month on The Huffington Post content in January, that number had dropped to less than 14 minutes by September 2017. Forbes experienced a similar, but less severe decline: its readers spent almost eight minutes per month on Forbes content in January, but just over five minutes per month by September. Surprisingly, the amount of time that Mashable’s readers spent with its content remained fairly consistent throughout the first half of the year, at around 35 minutes per month, before spiking in June and dropping dramatically to 18 minutes per month in September 2017 – perhaps an indication of reader discontent with Mashable’s new video strategy rollout. While this could be a promising sign for Mashable (and any of its potential buyers), the real concern should be directed towards the Huffington Post, whose dwindling readers spent just half the amount of time on HuffPo content in September as they did nine months ago.