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Startribune.com tops nation’s newspapers in per-user time

Say what you will about the ads, pagination and page refreshes: it seems users just can’t quit Startribune.com, at least compared to the nation’s biggest newspapers.
By David Brauer

Say what you will about the ads, pagination and page refreshes: it seems users just can’t quit Startribune.com, at least compared to the nation’s biggest newspapers.

According to Editor & Publisher, Strib.com topped the Top 30 — including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — in “time spent per person” in August. Nielsen Net Ratings says the Strib users spent 20 minutes, 47 seconds on the site, compared to around 14 minutes for the Times and Journal, and 10 minutes for the Post.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was newspapering’s runner-up, with 17 minutes, 31 seconds.

The Strib’s stats are actually down from a year ago, but Nielsen says it made its panel eight times larger since last summer.

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Few insiders take the Nielsen numbers as gospel, but still, the Strib has shown consistent strength in this area, and even with usability complaints, their web folks deserve a hat tip.

Of course, 20 minutes a month works out to about 40 seconds a day, which seems like an absurdly low number to build an economic model on. Obviously, we’re talking a lot of drive-by viewership and a smaller number of hardcores like me, who rack up 20 minutes on the site before breakfast. The hardcores will be the ones targeted for things like the Vikings paywall — one reason the Strib goal is to entice tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands.

If you believe Nielsen’s other number, the Strib has about 2 million unique users, more than any other local media outlet by a lot. So if my math is correct, we all spent a collective 691,667 hours staring at the site last month. There has to be some revenue in that.