British papers' transatlantic readership figures are impressive – but how to make money out of the States is less certain.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 21 april 2011


Powered by
This article titled “America: Fleet Street’s new land of opportunity” was written by Peter Preston, for The Observer on Saturday 16th April 2011 23.06 UTC

The headline really writes itself: “The Brits are Coming.” It’s an Oscars night boast translated for a multimedia world. It means that BBC World News America is now available on public broadcasting stations all over the US (with more cash going in to drive up’s monthly online visiting figures over 15m). It means that the Guardian has dispatched a high-powered editorial and finance team to New York to build digital awareness, news coverage and cash flow on an 10.75m comScore estimate of monthly American visitors to

And it means that Martin Clarke, Mail Online’s publisher, is already spending half his time in the States, as he watches newly recruited journalists churn out American stories for the US home page. Where, long ago, the FT dared to tread – and the Economist scored 850,000 or so subscribers – other British invaders are pouring in.

Prospects? Uncertain, of course: as with everything else in an internet realm where statistics contort and confuse. But let’s, at an educated guess, put the Mail’s monthly unique browser figures, as recorded by ABCe, at nearly 66m in all markets – and its unique visitor figures in the States, as assessed by comScore, at around 16.5m. These are big numbers, expanding fast. Not as big as the Huffington Post, or the New York Times. But if the Timess famous paywall chokes off traffic levels, then Mail Online could well overtake it very soon.

Both the Mail and the Guardian are apostles of free news on the net, reporting without walls; and they’re UK leaders at the numbers game. Perhaps the Guardian, with 23.7m unique browsers outside Britain, and nearly 40m in all, can’t quite keep up with Mail growth – but it, too, is increasing healthily (up 27% of total unique browsers in a year) and it, too, has a walled New York Times in its sights.

“I’m not suggesting that the Guardian is not a good paper. It is a very good newspaper… but it does not speak to the American experience,” said a defensive Arthur Sulzberger Jr, the supreme leader of the Times, the other day. He’s seen a threat building. He knows that, with net growth slowing in Britain, the US market still has juice left to tap. He can feel opportunity knocking for British invaders who have grown naturally in America in recent years – burgeoning, in the Mail’s case, almost accidentally to begin with, finding a market for celebrity news that works on both sides of the Atlantic and making swift tracks.

But here, perhaps, is the crucial rub. BBC America wins garlands, if not great wads of cash, because (as one industry blogger says) it is seen as “more truthful, honest and less biased than any of our domestic news sources”. Clarke’s Mail Online, with low costs and tight staffing, majors on hard news and celebrity gossip. It’s not an integrated version of the Daily Mail (except, perhaps, in spirit). Indeed, “it’s not like a newspaper at all”, as one of its senior executives observes. It is what it is, and nothing it does washes back into the print product.

The print and digital Guardian is different, because it is far more integrated – and complex. It will have to decide whether America wants extra American news – or something more simply international that keeps its UK flavour. And, of course, there’s a danger that the print and home online editions will catch an alien “experience” coming the other way. How many tales about Glenn Beck or Charlie Sheen for UK readers equal a case of fuzzy focus?

But hey! It’s an adventure and something new, building on audience figures that swelled from natural demand. Of course there are problems, challenges, doubts, sorrows. And of course prospective advertising riches aren’t huge, because net ad rates are low. But who wants to play Cassandra as the future clicks in? Ambition is a two-way street. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.


Genetics Startup Is Working To Create A Completely Personalized, DNA-Based Range Of Products

Travel Today

United Airlines Launches An Updated Business Class Program

The new Polaris product prioritizes customer service and updated modern amenities

Design & Architecture Today

Video Explores Complex Museum Architecture

A mini video gives a quick overview of the most beautiful cultural buildings built


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Advertising

See All
Sustainability Today

Smog Vacuum Turns Pollution Particulates Into Unique Jewelry

A large device was installed in Beijing that sucks up smog and compresses it into small centerpieces atop jewelry

Experiential Marketing Today

PSA Fashion Line Shines A Light On Victim Blaming

YWCA Canada is using fashion and sexist tweets to highlight how often we as a society blame the victim in cases of abuse

Related Expert

James George

Interactive Storyteller

Syndicated Today

What PSX 2016 Tells Us About The Modern Games Industry

Nostalgia and big brands are defining how the console market is being shaped

Op-Ed Today

VP: Why Messaging Apps Are Issuing In A New Era Of Commerce

Matt Johnson discusses how mobile messaging commerce is creating a different modality for interaction between retailers and consumers

Technology Today

The PSFK Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Based on a year of research by PSFK Labs, we curated a list of innovative and unique holiday gifts


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Food Today

Minute Maid Opens A Store That Sells Nothing

The beverage company opened a pop-up shop that encourages customers to write letters to their parents instead of buying a gift

Entertainment Today

Samsung And Viceland Partner For A Virtual Reality Documentary On The Syrian War

The White Helmets film uses VR to immerse viewers in the everyday conditions of the war-torn country

Design & Architecture Today

These Designs Bring Modern Architecture To The Humble Birdhouse

Artist Douglas Barnhard has imagined a series of designs emulating the work of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler

AI Today

Nine Technologies To Invest In When It Comes To Retail [Future Of Retail]

Retailers are leveraging assistive technology to help employees in their daily tasks and customers on the sales floor

Travel Today

Acura Cockpit Envisions The Future Of Autonomous Travel

The car brand has built a proof that offers a sneak peek of the self-driving vehicle experience


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Retail Today

How Artificial Intelligence Is Enabling Anytime Shopping & On-Demand Support

Retailers are leveraging advanced technology to relieve associates from mundane tasks, while better assisting customers

Cities Today

NYC Map Calculates Economic Benefits Of Every Tree

TreesCount! maps all the greenery in the five boroughs and even figures out how much money it saves the city

Design Today

Create A Perfectly Tailored Shirt Using Just Your Phone

UKYS has created an application to get accurate measurements of buyers through a few simple pictures for custom shirts

No search results found.