Top 75 British newspaper RSS feeds in Google Reader

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 28 November 2008

Hooray - some good figures for the newspaper industry for a change!

This time last year I made a list of the 100 most popular British newspaper feeds in Google Reader, and I thought it was worth updating the figures. The headline is that the number of RSS subscribers to the popular newspaper content has pretty much doubled.

Last year, the top 75 feeds added up to represent 249,269 subscriptions. This time around the top 75 accounts for 488,828 subscriptions.

20081123 Heart Rss

The usual caveats apply:

  • Google Reader is only one of the ways to read RSS feeds.
  • Number of subscribers is not the same as 'active' subscribers.
  • The numbers quoted by Google can fluctuate wildly.
  • I've not added together feeds where the same content appears to be coming from two or more addresses. Last time I tried to edit all the numbers together, but this year I figured that if the papers themselves can't work out how to set one canonical URL for their content, why should I worry about it?
  • The Google Reader Feed search is not great - for example a search for 'guardian.co.uk' or 'guardian' doesn't turn up the feed to the PDA blog, but obviously it does have subscribers. There is bound to be a couple of big hitting feeds that I have missed out. If you think your feed is one of them - send me the numbers and I'll curse and stamp my feet like a small child happily add it into the table.

But it is good enough to get a general impression of progress and relative popularity.

Top 75 British newspaper RSS feeds in Google Reader

1.GuardianUK news | guardian.co.uk118,335
2.Financial TimesFinancial Times - UK Homepage45,859
3.MetroMetro - Weird32,115
4.GuardianLatest news, sport, business, comment and reviews from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk23,037
5.GuardianLatest news, sport, business, comment and reviews from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk (different address)21,910
6.TimesUK News from Times Online16,631
7.IndependentThe Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed16,052
8.Financial TimesFT.com - Financial Markets News12,899
9.TimesLatest Business News from Times Online12,292
10.TelegraphTelegraph UK News11,313
11.Financial TimesFinancial Times - UK Home10,368
12.Financial TimesFT.com - Europe homepage9,694
13.Financial TimesFT.com - International economy9,053
14.Financial TimesFinancial Times - US homepage8,905
15.GuardianTechnology | guardian.co.uk8,680
16.IndependentThe Independent - World RSS Feed8,526
17.The SunTheSun.co.uk/News7,943
18.GuardianBooks | guardian.co.uk7,515
19.IndependentThe Independent - UK RSS Feed6,462
20.GuardianWorld news | guardian.co.uk6,039
21.GuardianFootball | guardian.co.uk4,616
22.TelegraphTelegraph Sport5,592
23.TimesTop stories from Times Online4,194
24.Financial TimesFT.com - China4,193
25.Financial TimesFT.com - World4,136
26.Financial TimesFinancial Times - US homepage4,008
27.GuardianMedia | guardian.co.uk3,850
28.Financial TimesFinancial Times - Europe homepage3,720
29.TelegraphTelegraph Major News3,209
30.Financial TimesFT.com - World2,927
31.GuardianPolitics | guardian.co.uk2,387
32.Financial TimesFinancial Times - Asia homepage2,265
33.Financial TimesFT.com - Financial Markets News2,096
34.Financial TimesFT.com - Companies1,922
35.TimesLaw News from Times Online1,911
36.Financial TimesFT.com - Technology1,875
37.TimesWorld News from Times Online1,864
38.Financial TimesFT.com - Commodities News and Market Data1,779
39.GuardianTechnology: Technology blog | guardian.co.uk1,715
40.GuardianGlobal: Charlie Brooker | guardian.co.uk1,711
41.TimesWorld News from Times Online1,666
42.Financial TimesFT Alphaville1,643
43.GuardianEducation | guardian.co.uk1,636
44.Financial TimesFT.com - Telecoms1,533
45.GuardianLatest news, sport, business, comment and reviews from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk (third different address)1,446
46.GuardianFrom the Observer: Observer | guardian.co.uk1,333
47.TimesLatest Business News from Times Online1,312
48.GuardianComment is free | guardian.co.uk1,301
49.GuardianScience | guardian.co.uk1,246
50.Financial TimesFT.com - Currency Markets News and Data1,229
51.GuardianMusic | guardian.co.uk1,200
52.Financial TimesFT.com - India1,192
53.GuardianUK news | guardian.co.uk1,179
54.GuardianTechnology | guardian.co.uk1,148
55.The SunSport RSS feed1,056
56.TimesUK News from Times Online1,021
57.Financial TimesFT.com - Currency Markets News and Data988
58.GuardianEnvironment | guardian.co.uk966
59.TelegraphTelegraph Fashion936
60.Financial TimesFT.com - Media931
61.GuardianGuardian Unlimited926
62.GuardianArt and design | guardian.co.uk908
63.Financial TimesFT.com - Commodities News and Market Data879
64.GuardianThe Guardian newspaper: Comment & debate | guardian.co.uk875
65.GuardianMedia | guardian.co.uk855
66.GuardianGuardian Unlimited Arts820
67.GuardianSport | guardian.co.uk788
68.GuardianGuardian Unlimited Business - top stories711
69.Financial TimesFT.com - IT693
70.This Is LondonThis Is London691
71.IndependentThe Independent | News | UK and Worldwide News | Newspaper679
72.ScotsmanScotsman.com News - News674
73.Financial TimesFinancial Times - Asia homepage630
74.TelegraphTelegraph Finance570
75.ScotsmanThe Scotsman - News (different address)569

Without doubt, the single most stunning performance comes from Metro, who appear to have grown the popularity of their 'Weird' feed from 4,683 subscribers to over 32,000 subscribers. I say appear, because the numbers on Google Reader can fluctuate, but I've been tracking this number all week and it seems stable.

Metro Weird feed numbers

Possibly most of them are Digg and Fark power-users just waiting to submit the latest social media fodder from the paper. More people, it seems, on Google Reader want stories about 'genital artists' than Financial Market news from the FT.

Metro weird genital projection story

Aside from that, the results and order are fairly similar to last year. It seems that to attract RSS subscribers, it pays to be a 'serious' paper, with a range of feeds that concentrate on 'serious' issues like business, technology, the media and law.

Not everybody is a winner though. I mentioned back in December 2007 that The Sun had rather strangely broken all the URLs to their RSS feeds by moving them without putting a re-direction in place. Now we've got some figures to show what a bad move that was. In November 2007, for their main feed the paper had 12,031 subscribers. 12 months later, that figure has fallen to 7,943 - a drop of a third.

And, on the downside, some sobering benchmarking figures. According to Google Reader, the New York Times homepage feed has 2,214,767 subscribers, and the BBC News World Edition feed has even more, at 2,810,949.

Still, let's finish with another happy growth story. This time last year I couldn't find a single Google Reader subscriber to any Daily Express content. Although they didn't make the Top 75, I did spot 166 people now subscribed to the homepage feed.

If only the industry could work out a cunning way to make money from this audience...at the moment it seems only The Independent serves adverts in their RSS feeds.

1 Comment

I suspect the NYT and BBC figures come from being the default News feeds in Google Reader when you first sign up.

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