These were the top publishers on Facebook in August 2020

September 17, 2020

Written by Benedict Nicholson

As we head into election season, the top publishers are seeing increasing amounts of political content garner significant engagement. We looked back at the top publishers on Facebook in August 2020. 

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 this month:

  • The Daily Wire remained at the head of the pack, topping 100 million engagements
  • Conservative publications surged into the top ten
  • Engagement dropped for the top ten as a whole once more, totaling 588 million engagements compared to 614 million last month

Let’s dive into the data. 

The top publishers of August 2020

Once again, The Daily Wire appeared at the top of the rankings, increasing their total number of engagements from 99 million in July to 105 million for the month of August.

Histogram of the top ten publishers in August, ranked by Facebook engagement

Fox News came second in the list, albeit with a significant gap to the top, hitting some 78 million engagements, with CNN close behind with 75 million. After that, there was another gap down to NBC News and The Daily Mail at around 63 million, before another significant gap to the chasing pack in the top ten. 

Overall, the level of engagement among the top ten dropped a minimal amount, with some such as NBC News and The Daily Wire seeing an increase in engagement month-over-month. Others, including CNN and Fox, saw a decrease in engagement this month.

Perhaps the most striking change this month is the greater proliferation of explicitly conservative publications in the top ten, with both The Blaze and Breitbart appearing in the list for the first time in months. 

But what content was driving the most engagement for the top publishers? 

For The Daily Wire it was a mix of reporting about the police, and criticism of the national media. The top article reported on Matt Walsh criticizing the media for allegedly not reporting on the death of five-year-old Cannon Hinnant, accusing them of only reporting on stories that fit a certain narrative. This piece saw more than 2 million engagements, and the publication’s three most engaged articles were all about this story in some way. Beyond this, there was Fauci on in-person voting, and Dr. Alveda King on Obama’s speech at John Lewis’s funeral, both of which received hundreds of thousands of engagements.

For Fox News, it tended to be more of a mix of traditional political stories and coronavirus reporting. The top article was about the newly-signed peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, which garnered 1.6 million engagements. Other top stories included ‘Operation Not Forgotten’ in Georgia, and Biden calling for a national mask mandate

CNN’s top article was about the death of Donald Trump’s brother, Robert. They also had highly-engaged pieces on Steve Bannon being charged with fraud, and Joe Biden selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate. All of these articles received more than a million engagements.

The top articles of August 2020

Interestingly, the top articles did not overlap much with the top publishers, with none of the top three publishers having a single article in the top fifteen overall.

Chart showing the top articles of August 2020, ranked by Facebook engagement

Chadwick Boseman’s death from cancer at 43 was the most engaged story of the month, appearing in several outlets including comicbook.com and Variety. 

The AP’s story on the Trump administration giving $35 million to fight human trafficking was the second most engaged story of the month.

NBC News received, by far, the most engagements of any coverage of Kamala Harris’s selection as a running mate by Joe Biden. Their piece received some 4 million engagements, while other mainstream outlets saw far fewer overall. The next most engaged article specifically about the announcement was from NPR, with 2.1 million engagements.

The top 25 publishers of August 2020

Below are the top 25 publishers on Facebook for the month of August, ranked by their total engagement on the platform.

Chart showing the top publishers of August 2020, ranked by Facebook engagement

As mentioned before, conservative publications have moved swiftly up the rankings this month, while many legacy outlets have fallen a few places. While the New York Times fell from fifth to ninth and NPR dropped from 12th to 15th, though MSNBC did rise from 25th to 18th.  

Engagement was lower across the board than it was in July looking at the top 25, with the 25th-placed publisher this month seeing just under 19 million engagements, whereas last month that number was around 24 million. 

As the election approaches, it’s vital to keep track of what’s being reported and what the public are engaging with. Sign up for our daily newsletter on the election here.

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 benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.

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