Local RSS: Google Reader subscriber numbers for the UK's top regional papers

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 8 December 2008

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of the Top 75 British Newspaper RSS feeds in Google Reader. Since I've been looking at the RSS feeds published by the UK's top 20 regional papers, so I thought I'd make a note of their subscriber numbers as well.

Regional Press Screenshots

The table below plots the popularity of the main RSS feed from each paper's website in Google Reader.

20081123 Heart Rss

There are two things of particular note. Firstly, the number of subscribers doesn't seem to correlate particularly well with the circulation figures for the physical paper. The main feed from EDP24, the online representation of the Norwich Eastern Daily Press, tops the table. However, of the 20 newspapers listed, at 63,508, they only have the 12th highest circulation, according to these August 2008 figures anyway.

Secondly, a lot of the numbers are very low here - but we do need to bear in mind that some national papers with a physical readership many times those of the local papers also struggle to get more than a couple of hundred of RSS subscribers, so it probably isn't that surprising.

RSS swatch

Google Reader subscription numbers for the UK's top 20 regional newspapers

Next...

In the next part of this rather loose series of posts looking at the UK's regional press websites, I'll be looking at their approach to social media.

2 Comments

What a fantastic resource Martin.

However, I was absolutely astounded at the low numbers besides each regional paper (and did a follow up post about it on thisisherd.com).

To put it into perspective, according to the stats you unearthed, the ratio of print copies sold to RSS subscribers for The Guardian is around 3:1. For the top performing regional, the Eastern Daily Press, that ratio is 500:1!

This all points to the fact that regionals have yet to prove their online relevance, and that their readership is still by and large almost completely anchored in with their print circulations - not a great position to be in these days.

Hi Dirk, the figures are very, very low. However I would caution that RSS is a niche activity, and comparisons with the nationals should be done with care. For example, we know from the ABCe figures that a very high proportion of national newspaper web users come from outside the UK. I doubt that this is true for the majority of regionals. I really think their online "catchment" area isn't going to stretch much beyond their patch plus a few ex-pats. I'm at least encouraged that 18 of the 20 are offering RSS.

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