Chart of the Week: News Engagement Spikes on Election Day

On Nov 6, Americans went to the polls to make their voices heard. We analyzed visitation to news websites and apps to understand how news consumption changed leading up to the midterm elections.

Top Five News Apps

Before we dug into trended data, we looked at a snapshot of monthly data to determine the top five news brands in the US. Using Verto Watch data for October 2018 we found that CNN has the highest cross-platform reach with 54.2 million unique visitors in October 2018, closely followed by The New York Times at 50.6 million. It’s interesting to note that The New York Times actually has the highest reach on PC (includes Mac) with 26.9 Million unique visitors but CNN has a higher Smartphone reach with 32.6 Million Unique Visitors as well as a higher Tablet reach with 6.6 Million Unique Visitors.

This compares to Fox News visitors, who are the most engaged among the top five news brands with an average of 62 minutes spent per user in October 2018.

Election Day Trends

To understand news usage on Election Day, we analyzed daily cross-platform Unique Visitors and engagement for these five news brands leading up to Election Day. While all the brands saw an increase in the number of unique visitors visiting their website or app on Election Day across both mobile and desktop, CNN and The New York Times saw the largest increases.

The engagement trends tell a similar story. CNN and The New York Times saw an increase in average time spent per user on Election Day to about 22 minutes per user which is a 245% increase for CNN and 322% increase for The New York Time compared to the previous day, likely tracking election results. Fox News also saw an increase in engagement compared to the previous day. However, as seen in the October Snapshot above – Fox News users are generally more engaged than the rest of the news brands. When we look into this, we see that Fox News engagement spikes around other major news events. It goes to show that sometimes just reach doesn’t tell the whole story, understanding engagement as well is key.