Guardian and BBC battle for traffic in the Big Apple

The Guardian is making a song and dance about its web traffic having surpassed that of BBC News in the U.S. (via release).

That is a significant milestone for the UK publisher in the battle to win American hearts, minds, eyeballs — and advertisers. And it’s partly true…

The Guardian‘s October unique web visitors reached 11.8 million, surpassing BBC News’ 10.8 million visitors…

But those figures are only for the BBC News site ( The main BBC homepage (, which includes a BBC News feed that is one of the site’s main fixtures, had 15.5 million visitors — still 3.7 million more than The Guardian.

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What the numbers nevertheless show is that The Guardian had a better run-up to the U.S. 2012 presidential election that BBC News…

While BBC News lost one percent of its U.S. traffic between February and October, The Guardian gained 26 percent. But the BBC homepage also gained 14 percent.

This suggests politics is an area on which The Guardian may do relatively well in the States. Some scepticism persists that its British editors, based in New York, can make an American news site that Americans want to read. But those editors have been hiring U.S. writing talent like Marketplace’s respected former New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent Heidi N. Moore, who has become finance and economics editor.

At home in the UK, news publishers grumble they cannot compete with BBC News’ free, license fee-funded output. But, in the States, they can compete for both audiences and advertisers. Indeed, the BBC has, over the last few years, been investing heavily to build out ad sales infrastructure in America. In fact, politics is likely a speciality for The Guardian‘s U.S. site — so watch for whether it will sink back below BBC News in the months following Obama’s re-election.

Although Mail Online may be the most-read UK news service on the U.S. web nowadays, it is not necessarily competing for the same market as either the BBC or The Guardian, which are courting similar readers and advertisers. So BBC Worldwide will want to arrest the flattening of its BBC News traffic.

Disclosure: Guardian News & Media is an investor in paidContent’s publisher, Giga Omni Media.