We work with hundreds of news apps that collectively send us almost half a billion app loads every month. We analyzed this data to uncover just how much traffic the US elections drive to news organizations. Year over year October saw an increase in traffic of almost 25%.
Debates in particular, as well as breaking stories about the candidates (mainly Donald Trump) drive the most traffic. We averaged app launches per day for the first three weeks in September as a baseline for “average news traffic” for this time of year. The goal is to see the impact of the debates starting September 26. We graphed the results below showing for each day the percent of traffic above or below the baseline. A higher percentage means a dramatic news day, while a negative percentage indicates a slow news day:
The first big spike, September 19th, is actually unrelated to the election. This is the height of the reporting around the Chelsea bombing in NY and Seaside Park, NJ. The 19th is when police caught the suspect. This event drove traffic in the days before and afterwards, peaking at a 13% increase from the average news day.
Each presidential debate caused a surge in traffic: the first drove 15%, the second drove 27%, and the third drove 7% more traffic than an average news day. The video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush that was released two days before the second debate caused a “pre-debate” surge in traffic. This led to the large audience tuning in for the second debate to hear Trump defend himself. To give you an idea of how much traffic the second debate drove, this represents over 60% more news traffic than the average news day last October.
Finally, the one and only VP debate on October 4th drove an increase of about 13%, the same surge in viewership as the terrorist reporting on September 19th.
In conclusion, there doesn’t seem to be election fatigue. On the contrary, the data shows that consumers are highly intrigued by breaking news during election season. The big winners are mobile news apps that can deliver real-time updates.