These were the top publishers on Facebook in January 2020

March 2, 2020

Written by Benedict Nicholson

We’ve entered the new year, and we’ve got a brand new list of top publishers for you for January 2020, with one very clear runaway winner.

New year, new rankings. As we progress rapidly through 2020, we looked back at the most engaged publishers for the month of January to determine the publishers with the most engaged content on Facebook. 

Once again, we used our API to gather these rankings, which you can read about on our developer hub. This analysis includes English-language content from publishers, ranked by Facebook likes, shares, and comments to their web content, ranked by domain. Additionally, these rankings do not include media natively uploaded to a Facebook Page, such as a Facebook video.

Here are some of the highlights: 

  • The Daily Mail blew away every other publisher in January, topping 90 million engagements
  • Fox and CNN were neck and neck in second and third
  • NBC continued its impressive performance thanks to political coverage

Let’s look at the data.

The top publishers on Facebook in January 2020

The Daily Mail was by far the most engaged publication for the first month of 2020, with its 90 million engagements on Facebook putting it at almost double any of its rivals.

Histogram showing the ten most engaged websites on Facebook in January 2020

In second place was Fox News, though they were roughly equal with CNN, NBC, and Higher Perspectives. The latter of these is a viral site associated with feel-good content and spirituality that has been rising rapidly up our rankings in recent months. 

All of the top publishers gained significantly on their performance in December, with CNN, Fox, and NBC all receiving between ten and twenty million more engagements in January than in the final month in 2019. This was still not enough, however, to get them close to The Daily Mail this month, who almost doubled their number of engagements, going from 48 million to 90 million in the space of just a month. 

This was driven by a number of different viral top stories. The top story was about the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, in a helicopter crash, which saw 2.6 million engagements, and was part of a general day of shock and pain across the media spectrum. Beyond these tragic deaths, the environment was a big driver of engagement for the Mail, with the coverage of the Australian fires and tsunami warnings featuring repeatedly in the top stories. The Daily Mail saw eleven of its top stories receive over a million engagements this month. 

For Fox, the focus was mostly political, with the top stories being about the economy and Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens, which received 2.5 million engagements and 1.1 million engagements respectively. The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was also one of the top ten articles, garnering some 600,000 engagements on Facebook. Fox’s second most engaged article was also about the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter. 

For CNN, the top stories were mixed between the political and the general interest. The Australia fires also dominated for the American publisher, with two of the top ten stories directly related to the disaster. The top story, however, with some two million engagements, was about a portion of the border wall in California that fell over due to high winds. 

But what about the top articles overall? 

The top articles of January 2020

The top articles for January were unsurprisingly principally focused on the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. The most engaged of these articles came from the New York Post, with some 8 million engagements. People and TMZ also had articles covering the matter in the fifteen most engaged articles, with 6.8 million and 5.7 million engagements respectively.

Chart showing the top articles on Facebook in January 2020

There were also a number of viral articles from non-mainstream publishers, which generally involved feel-good or emotional posts of one form or another. Lots of these were dedicated to parents and moms. 

There was also one story about impeachment from a local Michigan publisher, though this did not feature prominently among the top stories generally. 

The top 25 publishers

The chart below shows the top 25 publishers of January, ranked by engagement, alongside the total number of articles written.

Chart showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in January 2020, ranked by engagement

Obviously, The Daily Mail dominated, but one interesting data point that we can take from this table is the fact that there was a broad rise across the whole spectrum of the top 25.

In December, the 25th most engaged publisher was HuffPost, who received 13 million engagements, while the following month, NPR needed 17.5 million engagements to be the 25th most engaged. Indeed, NPR actually fell three places in the rankings this month from 22nd, despite actually driving 3.5 million more engagements than they did in December, showing the broad improvement across the board. 

All in all, it was a successful first month of the year for publishers, with some seeing more engagement than they saw for any month in 2019.

If you’d like to monitor the top websites on Facebook yourself, check out NewsWhip Analytics here. 

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