Time spent on top news websites falls

The average time spent on US news websites fell in January this year, compared to January 2009, Editor and Publisher reports.

The figures from a year ago are difficult to compare with those from this year because of the presidential inauguration in January 2009. Of course, it is important that audience measurement remains consistent, as there will always be large news stories that make comparisons more complicated.

The study from Nielsen Online defines ‘time spent’ as the average time spent per person over the course of one month. The top news and current events sites managed between seven and 24 minutes of user attention.

The only company to see an increase in time spent was Tribune Newspapers, which had a modest rise from nine minutes and three seconds last year to 10 minutes and 26 seconds this year.

At other organisations the time readers spent on the site fell by half or even more. Fox News Digital Network saw a fall from just over 45 minutes to just under 21 minutes. The New York Times‘ website also noted a drop from almost 29 minutes to a little over 14 minutes.

The average time that readers spend on news websites varies widely
depending on major news events and other factors, and Nielsen expanded
its audience measurement system in June last year, which could also
affect the figures, Editor and Publisher pointed out. All the figures
for average time spent per person for top news websites, January 2009
and 2010, are available here.

This follows the news that the title of the most popular current events website was taken out by CNN Digital Network
with 40.6 million users in the month of January. Some websites
increased their number of unique users compared to the year before,
despite the traffic from the inauguration. It will be interesting to
see if, and how, the websites change their strategies to keep readers’
attention for longer.

I’m not sure how to feel about this.

Thoughts?

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