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.
Good analysis, Martin. However, Google Reader stats do have flaws as this analysis shows.
Most of that doesn't affect the feeds on your list but it's worth bearing in mind that no RSS service attempts to verify whether a subscriber is active or not.
For example, I'm probably counted as a Bloglines subscriber for any number of feeds but I haven't logged into Bloglines for well over a year.
Thanks for the findings but keep this in mind: Google Reader Stats are Bullshit (With Proof).
Here are the numbers for Danish Media: Så mange rss-abonnenter har de største danske websteder (I hope your Danish is not too rusty).
It seems that Danes are adopting RSS much faster than the British. You can't rely on the first four in the Danish list - they are defaults in iGoogle - but the rest have as many RSS subscribers as UK media. And we are just 5,000,000.
Any guesses why?
I certainly agree that it is flawed metric - although frankly what metric isn't on the web ;-)
The Google Reader Blog tried to clear up some of the mysteries in this post. Certainly the number of subscribers measured by both Google Reader and Bloglines in public do not agree with the stats I get from FeedBurner for the feed for this site, and clearly include distortions for all sorts of reasons.
What interests me is the kind of general trend the list illustrates - which is one of the reasons I put the newspaper favicons into the list so you could visually see who was performing well on this measure.
I think it shows that the papers that have invested heavily in providing multiple feeds are seeing a return on investment on those feeds in terms of subscriber numbers. The Guardian, Times and Telegraph, it seems to me, are reaping benefits in this area, that are leaving the middle-brow papers trailing behind.
And obviously there are some interesting things missing from the list - I can't believe that if The Sun's Sport feed has 700+ subscribers listed that their specific Football feed has none - but I couldn't find it listed. And I'm always puzzled why The Telegraph's Fashion coverage does so well in the lists I've made this year!
I've just noticed that the Sun recently changed all of their RSS feed addresses. The three of their feeds that you list (like all of their old feeds) now return 404s.
Not sure how Google Reader handles this but it appears that Bloglines responded by silently dropping the feeds from my subscriptions after a short time. I assume that the Sun could have avoided this by setting up the appropriate redirections.
Worth keeping in mind that we've just relaunched the Daily Record. Whereas the previous site did not have any feeds (!), the new site has feeds for each and every category, section and columnist. As the new site has only been live for a few weeks, it will take time for the subscriber count to build up.