These were the top publishers on Facebook in April 2020

May 21, 2020

Written by Benedict Nicholson
Facebook on Mobile

We looked back at the top publishers on Facebook for the month of April, with some publishers still seeing record engagement. 

After a record month in March, April has seen a slight dip in engagement to coronavirus content, with engagement to COVID-19 content finally dropping below that of all other content combined. Engagement across the board is still some of the highest we have ever seen for individual publishers, however.

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 key takeaways: 

  • The Daily Mail remained top of the rankings, maintaining a narrow lead over CNN
  • CNN broke the 100 million engagement for the first time, having fallen just short last month
  • The New York Post broke into the top ten this month, taking seventh spot just behind Fox News 

Let’s look a little deeper.

The top publishers on Facebook in April 2020

Although engagements for the Daily Mail did drop around 10 percent from their peak in March, the number was still the highest it has ever been if March were excluded. The publisher saw 110 million engagements for the month of April.

Histogram showing the top publishers on Facebook in April 2020

CNN had the opposite experience, actually gaining engagement around 20 percent to leapfrog NBC into second place. They ended the month just behind the Daily Mail in terms of engagements, also seeing 110 million engagements. 

NBC came in third, with engagements dropping slightly to 89 million compared to last month’s 98 million. All the top publishers were big newspapers or cable news channels, and all saw engagements north of 50 million. 

In addition to those mentioned above, compared with the month of March, the BBC, the New York Times, Fox, and the New York Post all gained engagements, while The Washington Post, and The Guardian saw slight reductions. 

COVID-19 coverage was still the primary driver of engagement for the top publishers, but it was not as dominant as it was the previous month. 

Six of the Daily Mail’s top articles were in some way related to coronavirus. The top narratives for it included beaches in Florida reopening, which drove 5 million engagements, 330,000 people having recovered across the globe (3 million engagements), and Texas being the first state to reopen (2.5 million engagements). Non-coronavirus stories in the top ten included the deaths of Bill Withers and Gene Deitch, and a lyrid meteor shower in the northern hemisphere.

For CNN, eight of the top ten articles were about COVID-19 or related topics, though the top story was not. That was the news of Bernie Sanders suspending his presidential campaign, which drove almost 3 million engagements. The other non-coronavirus story was news of Anderson Cooper announcing the birth of his son, which saw 1.2 million engagements. Highly engaged COVID-19 narratives included lions taking advantage of the lockdown, Miss England hanging up her crown to return to work as a doctor, and China restricting investigations into the origins of the virus.  

NBC had the top story of the top three publishers, with its coverage of President Trump’s disinfectant comments garnering more than 6 million engagements. Other successful stories for the publisher included articles on Shake Shack returning the money they got from the Paycheck Protection Program, anti-lockdown protests in Michigan, and the firing of a navy captain who raised the coronavirus alarm on an aircraft carrier. Their coverage of Bernie Sanders’ campaign suspension also made their top ten.

But what about the top articles more broadly?

The top articles on Facebook in April 2020 

Many of the articles we referenced above also appeared in the top overall articles, which is not always the case for these rankings.

Chart showing the top articles on Facebook in April 2020 ranked by engagement

The NBC News story about disinfectant was the top article of the month, with more than six million engagements. Forbes had a piece that came in third that looked at what it claimed were the best responses to the coronavirus, and noted that one thing they had in common was women leaders.

The second most engaged article was an inspiring Easter post that was highly shared. Feel-good themes resonated a number of times throughout the top fifteen, with at least four of the articles focusing on finding positives in life, all seeing millions of engagements. 

There were also some controversial pieces on coronavirus that were highly engaged. The Washington Examiner saw an opinion piece calling coronavirus hype a political hoax garner over 5 million engagements, while a piece in Global Research cited a Fox News interview to claim that US hospitals were being paid more to label coronavirus as a cause of death.

Beyond coronavirus, the only stories that made the top ten was erroneous speculation about Kim Jong-un’s health.

Top 25 publishers on Facebook in April

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


Chart showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in April 2020

There were no huge notable moves in the top publishers overall. Worthy of note once again, however, is the sheer amount of engagement all of the top 25 are getting. Once again, even the lower publishers on the above list received over 25 million engagements, which would have easily seen them make the top ten towards the end of 2019. This goes to show the sheer amount that engagement has jumped in the intervening time. 

If you want to track the top stories and publishers yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via

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