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BBC Most Popular?

October 15, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Disclosure: I have very recently accepted a job at the BBC.)

TechCrunch (and others) yesterday reported Top Blogs on Google Reader, compiling a league table of the most popular RSS feeds on the web, or in fact those subscribed to by Google Reader users.

Various updates to these posts however suggest the early figures may have been misleading and certainly a more recent visit to Google Reader will show a considerably different set of figures.

It seems (update: and has been confirmed) the early figures shown on Google Reader yesterday were gross underestimates of the real values, by varying degrees.

Certainly all reports yesterday placed BBC News at the top, but is still the case? Robert Scoble suggests the BBC have so many subscribers because they have a well-written RSS Feeds Help Page. Hmm, I fail to see how this brings them so much traffic Robert, perhaps instead people subscribe for their relatively unbiased news content…?

Yesterday, TechCrunch showed the RSS leaderboard as follows:

1. BBC 202,463
2. Google News 192,100
3. ESPN 189,274
4. MarketWatch 176,814
5. Engadget 146,449
6. TechCrunch 129,160
7. Wired Top Stories 104,159
8. Official Google Blog 71,283
9. Slashdot (top level) 71,046
10. Make Magazine 61,464

Having revisited the stats today myself I get the following figures for those same 10 feeds:-

1. BBC News 2,254,251 (1)
2. ESPN 1,012,666 (3)
3. Google News 694,297 (2)
4. Wired 686,996 (7)
5. MarketWatch 371,316 (4)
6. Engadget 361,169 (5)
7. Slashdot 322,995 (9)
8. TechCrunch 187,320 (6)
9. Official Google Blog 101,107 (8)
10. Make Magazine 90,789 (10)

Quite a difference. (numbers in parentheses denote TechCrunch table position.)

Both however show BBC News (n.b., inclusive of both UK and International versions) as far and away the most popular RSS feed on the web, according to Google Reader subscriptions. The rather grand figure of 2 million subscribers yet excludes all children feeds such as BBC Sport, Science, Technology, etc. I applied similar selection criteria for all feeds listed above, e.g. did not include Wired Gadgets in the Wired figure.

Of course Google Reader subscriptions alone aren’t the be all and end all of syndication statistics, but with the BBC showing twice that of the nearest competitor, I think the claim can safely be made that BBC News is far and away the most popular feed on the web today.

Also of note is the BBC Brazilian news, clocking in at far more than BBC English News, can you believe 4,322,070 subscribers. That’s Megabrazilians!

Update: Strangely absent from Mike Arrington’s list was the New York Times news feed, which currently clocks in at 1,455,498 subscribers, still some distance short of the Beeb.

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