NEW DELHI: Daily readership of online news in India has increased by one third over the past 12 months and the average time spent on site has risen by a similar figure, new research has revealed.
Data from comScore, the digital measurement company, show that in the year to August 2013 there was a 34% surge in average daily visitor numbers to news and information sites, peaking at 9.4m.
Reader engagement for the news category also spiked within the past year, with users spending on average 31% more time on news sites at 41.6 minutes per visitor.
Overall, the total number of visits was up 40% to 364.6m, while the total number of unique visitors climbed more slowly at 15% to reach 45.9m.
The Times of India continued to be the clear leader in the news category, with 12.7m unique visitors in August, followed by the Yahoo!-ABC News Network, with 10.7m unique visitors and HT Media with 8.2m.
The fastest growth came from India.com Sites, which registered a 25% increase in unique visitors to 7.2m, catapulting it into the top ten for the first time.
Several international sites featured in the list as well as Yahoo!-ABC, with CNN and the BBC both pulling in just over 2m unique visitors.
Overall, however, 16 of the top 20 news properties were local news publishers. And many of these saw a significant amount of traffic from abroad. FirstPost.com, for example, generated more than half (51%) its audience overseas, followed by Manorma Sites at 45%. The Times of India, as a major news brand, was also prominent in this area, with 38% of its audience coming from other markets.
While the average time spent on a site was around 42 minutes, several reported significantly higher figures. DivyaBhaskar.co.in and Bhaskar.com, for example, demonstrated especially strong engagement at 100.3 minutes and 62.1 minutes, respectively.
Other niche news sites with more modestly-sized audiences – including Jagbani.com, PunjabKesari.in, and Navbharat Times – also generated high engagement with a higher number of page views per visitor than the category average of 48.
Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff