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September ABCes: How the Guardian and Telegraph overtook the Mail

October 25, 2009 2 Comments

June 2009 saw the Mail Online unexpectedly overtake both the Guardian and Telegraph in the ABCes, partly on the back of US traffic and Michael Jackson stories.

Fast forward to September and the story is the same as earlier in the year - Guardian 1st, Telegraph 2nd and Mail 3rd. So what changed from June to September? To find out, I've compared the ABCe figures for UK and foreign visitors in June and September. The difference between the Guardian's performance and that of the Telegraph and Mail is revealing.

Guardian: strong growth here and abroad

Table: September unique visitors (millions) and percentage change since June

Total Change UK Change Overseas Change
Guardian 33m 14% 11.9m 17% 21.1m 12%


The Guardian has seen significant growth in the UK AND abroad.

Its total visitor numbers grew 14% from June to September (up from 29m to 33m). There was a 17% increase in UK visitors and a 12% increase in visitors from abroad. This makes it the most popular online newspaper in the UK by some way (it's 2.4m ahead of the Mail in second place).

UK visitors accounted for 36% of the total in September (barely changed from 35% in June).

Telegraph: overseas growth only

Table: September unique visitors, percentage change since June

Total Change UK Change Overseas Change
Telegraph 31m 14% 9.1m -1% 21.9m 22%


The Telegraph has also seen a 14% increase in total visitors from June (27.2m) to September (31m).

However, the geographical breakdown is revealing - its UK unique visitor numbers are down 1% from June to August but its overseas visitors are up 22% (from 18m to 21.9m). It's now the most visited UK newspaper abroad - but only the 3rd most visited inside the UK.

As a result, the proportion of its visitors that comes from the UK has fallen from 34% to 29% - the lowest of any UK newspaper (the Mail held this honour back in June).

The Telegraph saw the biggest increase in overseas visitors of any newspaper - but because its UK traffic fell, the Guardian beat it into 2nd place.

Mail: UK growth only

Table: September unique visitors, percentage change since June

Total Change UK Change Overseas Change
Daily Mail
30m 2% 9.5m 15% 20.6m -2%


The Mail's stood fairly still between June and September - it had 30m visitors last month, up just 2% on three months ago. But its story is the reverse of the Telegraph's.

The Mail saw strong UK growth - up 14% to 9.5m visitors in three months. Overseas visitors, however, fell by 2% to 20.6m. As a result, it now gets 32% of its visitors from the UK (up from 28% in June).

It got overtaken by the Guardian because it hasn't been able to match and sustain its overseas growth.

And the rest ...

As for the others:

  • The Sun is down to 23m visitors in September, an 8% fall over 3 months. A 15% collapse in overseas visitors couldn't make up for a 3% increase in UK users.
  • The Times is a story of decline - 13% down overall, with a 10% fall in the UK and a 14% fall from overseas.
  • The same is true of the Mirror (down 5% overall) and the Independent (down 6% overall) but to a lesser extent.

This table has all the stats. If you can't see the iframe, you can see the full spreadsheet here.

The Express doesn't take part in the ABCes. The FT does only some months.

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