Latest numbers indicate New York Times traffic is flat since paywall

BuzzFeed | comScore
BuzzFeed reports that the U.K.’s Daily Mail has passed The New York Times as the largest online newspaper property in the world. A spokeswoman for the Times says this doesn’t mean that the Daily Mail is the largest single newspaper site, though, because its figure includes a recently added personal finance site. (I’ve reached out to comScore for more information.)

But the new figures show something else: The Times hasn’t lost reach since instituting its paywall on March 28, 2011. The Guardian reported in April 2011 that the Times had 61.96 million unique visitors worldwide in March, which was an increase of 41 percent from the previous month.

That means the Times had 44 million unique visitors worldwide in February; in December, that figure was 44.8 million, according to BuzzFeed. (Both outlets cited comScore as the source of their figures.)

Eileen Murphy, the Times’ vice president for corporate communications, confirmed these figures and said traffic is flat from December 2010 to December 2011. February’s 44 million uniques was the lowest in that time period; October’s 48.7 million was the highest (not including March’s spike, mostly driven by the Japanese tsunami). Those figures don’t include or other properties owned by the Times Co.

“We certainly haven’t seen the sorts of declines that people anticipated when we launched the paywall,” she said.

The Daily Mail’s claim of the top spot continues a trend. In March, it passed The Huffington Post as the second-largest “newspaper” site (it’s unclear why HuffPost was included in that category).

The Guardian reported then that the Daily Mail’s traffic gains were partly the result of its focus on U.S. news. Martin Clarke, editor and publisher of the Mail’s websites, tells BuzzFeed that traffic is growing because “we just do news that people want to read,” said Clarke.

The Daily Mail also has been criticized for lifting photos from other sites without permission and for rewriting others’ stories.

Here’s comScore’s list of newspaper sites with the most U.S. visitors (different than the worldwide figures above) in December 2011:

Website Uniques per month (000)
The New York Times Brand 30,585
USATODAY Sites 28,595
Tribune Newspapers 27,090
Advance Digital 18,132
Mail Online 16,686
Hearst Newspapers 13,810
McClatchy Corporation 12,879
MediaNews Group 12,698
Wall Street Journal Online 12,524
Lee Enterprises, Incorporated 6,631
TOPIX 6,539

Earlier: New York Times draws more “addicted” Web visitors than Huffington Post, which relies on “passers-by” (Poynter) | April 2011 ranking of top news sites in the U.S. (Poynter)

Correction: This post originally stated that October was the Times’ highest-traffic month since December 2010, but that didn’t include March, which saw unusually high traffic due to the Japanese tsunami. The post has updated to reflect that.

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