Research shows second COVID bump in the United States

By Grzegorz Piechota

INMA

Oxford, United Kingdom

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Have you expected a drop in sales? Not yet. Last week online subscriptions performed very well and above the pre-COVID levels in both the United States and Europe, reported Piano, a publishing business platform that has supplied INMA with the weekly benchmarks on the bump since the start of the outbreak.

  • In the week of April 12, the second peak was actually observed in the United States, with the sales up 84% compared to the pre-crisis period. It increased from 69% up in the week of April 5.
  • For U.S. publishers, the total sales in April is likely to be higher than in March, as the bump started there later than in Europe.
  • In Europe last week, the increase in sales was just marginal — from 101% the week before to 104% last week — but it should be considered a success considering the slowly declining interest in news about COVID-19.

“We seem to be moving sideways rather than dropping back to pre-COVID levels,” said Patrick Appel, director of research at Piano. “These increases may also have to do with publishers getting smarter about how to market subscriptions in this environment and putting a greater emphasis on reader revenue as advertising dollars disappear.”

At the same time, the total number of pageviews generated by COVID-19 coverage and time spent engaging with it were both down 17% compared to the previous week, reported Jill Nicholson of Chartbeat, an online analytics company.

  • Search traffic to the COVID-19 articles was down 20% and social referrals were down 15%. 
  • Demand for other news remained strong — pageviews and engagement time to non-COVID content decreased just by 5%, suggesting the interest has been shifting to other developments, such as in the economy.

“Across the board, we’re about back to the coverage and traffic levels we were reporting for March 9, which was about a week before the network peak on March 16,” Nicholson said.

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