Newspapers 2.0: Bloglines newspaper blog RSS subscription figures

 by Martin Belam, 23 May 2007

Yesterday I was looking at the most popular RSS newsfeeds from British newspapers.

Well, at least the most popular ones according to the subscription figures given by the Bloglines online RSS reader anyway.

This is a crude measure of popularity for all sorts of reasons.

It only measures public subscriptions in one online RSS feed-reading service. It doesn't take into account any demographic skew between the user base of Bloglines and the readership of the newspapers concerned. It doesn't measure click-throughs, or number of comments, or user engagements.

And, as an additional caveat, the figures for blogs that I want to look at today don't include The Sun, since they do not publish RSS feeds of their blogs.

However, in the absence of detailed audited figures on blog or RSS usage being produced by all the newspapers concerned, it is the best blurry Polaroid of blog reading activity that we can see.

And if you really don't like it as a way of measuring readership activity on British newspaper blogs, instead look at it the other way, as an indicator of what Bloglines users are interested in.

In all I looked at the Bloglines subscription figures for 107 newspaper blogs from seven newspapers.

Top Twenty British newspaper blogs according to Bloglines

Pos. Newspaper Blog Title Bloglines Subscribers
2GuardianNews Blog748
4GuardianComment is Free421
5TimesRuth Gledhill123
7GuardianOrgan Grinder103
8GuardianAsk Jack96
9GuardianArts Blog89
10TimesComment Central 81
11TimesA Dons Life76
12TimesPeter Stothard68
13TelegraphRichard Spencer61
14TimesNews blog60
15TimesEco Worrier56
16TelegraphShane Richmond52
19GuardianSport Blog43
20Daily MailPeter Hitchens41

The Guardian and The Times can feel very pleased with themselves looking at the figures. All but four places in the top twenty most subscribed to British newspaper blogs in Bloglines come from either one of those papers, with The Guardian taking eight out of the top ten slots.

Two points strike me here. It could just be that The Guardian had first mover advantage, since they have had blogs on the site for a while and were early adopters of publishing RSS feeds. On the other hand, this could just be an indicator that the Bloglines user base features a disproportionate number of Guardian and Times readers. Certainly, yesterday's figures showed a strong user base for Guardian content on Bloglines.

British newspaper blogs aggregate RSS subscriptions in Bloglines

By adding together the subscribers to all the individual blog feeds provided by each newspaper, I've put together a table of the newspapers with the most blog subscribers via Bloglines. Again, The Sun is absent from the table as they do not provide RSS feeds of their blog-style content.

Pos. Newspaper Bloglines Subscribers
1Guardian 4,240
2Times 710
3Telegraph 343
4Daily Mail 69
5Mirror 8
6Independent 5
7Express 0

I note that depressingly for The Mirror, they have only 3 more subscribers across their entire range of blogs than The Independent does across its one lacklustre effort. Whilst The Mirror has been investing in this area, and makes blogs one of the primary navigational categories on their site, The Independent's blogs are an embarrassment to their brand, and I'm sure The Mirror would hope to be making more of an impression.

It doesn't surprise me that The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph are leading the pack here - since all three papers have invested in a fine roster of regular blog contributors, and it shows in the audiences they are reaching.

Please note tha the figures for The Telegraph and The Mirror given here include both RSS feeds of their blogs by category, and also their per author feed.

I have included The Guardian's Comment Is Free main feed in their figure, but not the per author feeds provided by this service. This isn't because of my having taken any stance on the is it / isn't it a blog debate, but because there are approaching 2,000 of them.


Several newspapers don't include a list of all of their RSS feeds on their RSS help pages or indeed anywhere on their site, so it can be difficult to discover them all. Next week I will be publishing some OPML files listing all of the RSS feeds I have been looking at in this piece of research.

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