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OAN and ‘The Intercept’ have this one thing in common

Traffic surged to both sites in 2020, thanks to the pandemic and America’s historic political divisions.

OAN and ‘The Intercept’ have this one thing in common
[Photo: Vojtech Okenka/Pexels]
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Most people will probably agree that 2020 was one of the most harrowing, contentious years of the 21st century yet. Lockdowns resulting from a global pandemic kept many Americans physically isolated from each other, while a bitter presidential race and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter kept many mentally and politically divided.

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And it’s the combination of those two things—the physical isolation from COVID-19 and America’s historic political division—that fueled the rankings of SimilarWeb’s The Digital 100 list this year. The list by the web traffic intelligence company ranks the top 10 fastest-growing brands across 10 categories, including apparel, electronics, and fintech.

But from a media perspective, the rankings of the top left-leaning and right-leaning news brands are the most revealing. American’s divisions over the COVID-19 response and Trump was good for media companies on both sides of the political aisle. “A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic combined with a presidential election led to unprecedented levels of traffic to news websites in 2020,” SimilarWeb’s report notes, “with traffic leaders like The New York Times and CNN experiencing 68% and 40% increases in traffic (year-over-year) YOY, respectively.”

But sorry to sites like CNN and Fox News, the real media winners in The Digital 100 were some of the most left-leaning and right-leaning websites. Left-leaning site The Intercept saw its YOY growth surge 56%–the largest surge of any left-leaning site. As for right-leaning sites, stalwart Fox News didn’t even make the top 10. The right-leaning site that took the number one spot was One America News Network (OAN), which saw growth surge 148% YOY, likely due to Trump’s embrace of the right-wing network as his relationship with Fox News soured. Another of Trump’s alternate right-wing news services, Newsmax, took the number two spot, seeing its growth surge by 141%.

It will be interesting to see whether 2021 sees continued growth for OAN and Newsmax now that Trump is no longer in power.

As for other brands that saw YOY growth surge, here is the number one brand in each of the 10 categories SimilarWeb tracked:

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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