For no particular reason that I can discern, NBC put out a press release this morning crowing about its news division’s online presence in the form of MSNBC.com…
With changes afoot in network television news, one thing that has not changed is NBC News’ dominance online. Not only does NBC News’ website, MSNBC.com, draw nearly 20 million more unique visitors per month than CBSNews.com and ABCNews.com, but it is consistently the first site to provide news consumers with innovative online complements to on-air efforts. For example, since May 2005 MSNBC.com has introduced netcasts of “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” and “Today,” blogs including “The Daily Nightly,” and “Baghdad Blog,” video blogs such as “The Early Nightly,” and MSNBC.com originals such as “Rising From Ruin,” the site’s year-long, award-winning look at the recovery after Katrina.
Said Steve Capus, President of NBC News, “MSNBC.com is the premier site for news and information in America. It covers the spectrum, drawing on the unmatched resources of NBC News around the world and is produced in brilliant manner by some of the finest online journalists in the country.”
MSNBC.com has dominated CBSNews.com and ABCNews.com since measurement began. According to the Nielsen//NetRatings NetView service, MSNBC.com currently averages 24.6 million unique visitors per month, more than four times CBSNews.com’s average of 5.2 million and more than three times ABCNews.com’s average of 6.9 million. In addition, MSNBC.com has never lost a month to either competitor in the ComScore ratings, which date back to 1997, where MSNBC.com currently averages 26 million unique visitors per month compared to 6.6 million and 7.8 million for CBSNews.com and ABCNews.com, respectively.
Growth off such a large consumer base can be challenging, but MSNBC.com’s steadily increasing audience is in sharp contrast to the trends at ABCNews.com and CBSNews.com. During the second half of 2002, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, the average number of monthly unique visitors was 8.8 million for ABCNews.com and 3.2 million for CBSNews.com, while MSNBC.com drew 17.2 million. Since that time, the number of average monthly unique visitors to ABCNews.com has dropped by 1.8 million, while CBSNews.com’s increased by only 2 million. Over the same period, MSNBC.com’s audience grew by an average of 7.7 million unique visitors per month. Nielsen//Net Ratings reports that the news and information category as a whole grew from an average of 67.7 million unique visitors per month in 2002 to 112.4 million currently.
“While significant changes are happening throughout network television news, MSNBC.com has always led the online space,” said Charlie Tillinghast, President of MSNBC.com. “Not only do we have four times the traffic of ABC or CBS online, our users are far more engaged, spending more than twice the amount of time on MSNBC.com. Original projects such as ‘Rising From Ruin,’ which combine video, photos, audio, text stories, citizen diaries and interactive elements take full advantage of the web, and take us beyond simply repurposing television content.”
MSNBC.com enjoys high visibility and resulting traffic as the exclusive news provider for the portal MSN.com and both have seen significant growth over the years. But even subtracting the traffic from MSN.com, MSNBC.com’s audience is still double that of either CBSNews.com or ABCNews.com.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center provides further evidence of the site’s powerful consumer appeal. Among those who regularly get news online, 31% of consumers use MSNBC.com most often. ABCNews.com and CBSNews.com were regularly used only 4% and 1% of the time, respectively. The site is also widely recognized as the best throughout the industry. For the third straight year, and the fourth time in five years, MSNBC.com was awarded the National Press Club Online Journalism “Best Journalism Site” Award. In addition, after being named to BrandWeek magazine’s annual “Website Hotlist” in October 2005, the site was chosen in the February 2006 issue of OMMA magazine as the top news and information site. The article focused on “…the online publishers, portals and sites we believe exemplify excellence in their respective categories” and it states, “Online journalism doesn’t get much better or more real-time than MSNBC.com.”