Top 100 British newspaper feeds in Google Reader
Six months ago when I was doing a series of articles about how Web 2.0 British newspaper websites are, I produced a couple of charts illustrating which newspaper and newspaper blog RSS feeds were popular according to their Bloglines subscriber numbers.
It was rather a flawed study, since it only looked at one source of subscription figures, and would obviously be skewed by the demographic make-up of the Bloglines user base. At the time, though, I made the point that it was the best I could do until newspapers published fully audited RSS distribution figures.
Well, that hasn't yet happened. However, there has been one development - Google Reader has also started publishing subscriber numbers against the name of a feed in their search results.
I've therefore had a good search around Google Reader for the titles, domain names, and leading bloggers of British newspapers, and produced this list of the 100 most popular British newspaper RSS feeds - according to their Google Reader subscription numbers at least.
It is important I think to note the dominance of both the most serious newspapers, and the most serious subjects. Business, law and technology news, for example, do disproportionately well via RSS, compared to the amount of coverage that football or golf get in print and HTML. The FT also seems to score high with their tech feeds - IT, Telecoms and the Internet feeds all feature, whilst some of the more established areas of the marketplace do not. It seems to pay to make lots of feeds - the best performing papers are on the whole ones with the widest selection of feeds.
The leading personality by far is Charlie Brooker. Again I think that tends to suggest something about the kind of audience that use RSS feeds. Other personalities scoring highly were Roy Greenslade, Robert Fisk, Richard Spencer, Ruth Gledhill, Shane Richmond and Peter Hitchens - all with over 100 subscribers to their individual feed.
A couple of other interesting things stood out.
Firstly, I couldn't find any evidence that a single person has used Google Reader to subscribe to any RSS content at all from the Daily Express. In fact, for one search, the top results Google Reader brings back is for my own Chipwrapper newspaper headline feeds - albeit with no Google Reader subscribers either!
Secondly, Metro's "Weird" feed performs astonishingly well, with over 4,000 subscribers. This an order of magnitude greater than the audience for their news and sport content delivered via RSS.
And then there are the newspapers that didn't make the 100 because they are just dipping their toe into the RSS waters. The Daily Record in Scotland has two RSS subscribers in Google Reader, putting it on a par with The Daily Star's Celebrity feed. Scotland on Sunday is just ahead of them - with 3 subscribers.
The Google Reader subscriber numbers are again, of course, only one section of the feed-reading market, but I still think it provides a useful snapshot of the kind of audiences that newspapers are (and aren't) attracting for their content.