The AI-powered Opera news app Opera was downloaded 869,000 times in 2021, making it the most popular newly installed news app in the UK this year.
The Opera app from the eponymous Norwegian company best known for its “alternative” browser surpassed last year’s most popular download, the BBC News app, to take a surprise first spot.
The BBC News app ranked second with 808,000 downloads, far less than the 2.2 million installs it racked up in 2020, according to the Press Gazette’s analysis of data provided by app intelligence firm Sensor Tower.
This year, news aggregation apps have been downloaded more than legacy media brand apps themselves. The fourth place in the ranking was Breaking News (515,000 downloads), followed by UK Breaking News (482,000 downloads) in fifth place and the US application NewsBreak (253,000 downloads) in eleventh. InYourArea, Reach’s local news aggregator, was the twelfth most downloaded mobile app (239,000 downloads).
The popular Apple News app, which comes pre-installed on iPhones, did not appear in the data due to Apple’s security rules.
The most popular legacy news app, excluding the BBC’s two in the ranking, was the Sky News app (328,000 downloads). The Mail Online app was downloaded 199,000 times, making it the 14th highest ranked news app, while the Guardian app was downloaded 173,000 times (16th place).
Sports news apps were also popular with readers in the UK. The BBC Sport app ranked third with 570,000 downloads and the Talksport app ranked sixth with (414,000 downloads). Five of the top 20 news apps specialize in sports news.
Overall, the top news apps were downloaded slightly more in 2021 compared to 2020. This year’s top ten news apps were downloaded together 6.7 million times, compared to a total of 6 million times for the top ten from last year.
However, legacy players lost in 2021. In 2020, apps from five major legacy brands (BBC News, Guardian, Sky News, The Mail, and The Sun) were collectively downloaded 4.2 million times. This year, the same group of five apps were downloaded 1.6 million times.
While the 2021 download data appears to favor a number of relatively new players, the Press Gazette has previously reported that total time spent interacting with media on mobile devices, not captured in this data, tends to be heavily skewed. towards established UK news brands.
Most popular news apps in the US
News aggregators proved popular in the US in 2021, constituting the top three most downloaded news apps for the year.
NewsBreak, a news aggregator focused on local news co-launched by Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang ranked number one for the second year in a row with 10.7 million installs.
It was followed by Opera News (5.7 million downloads) and in third place SmartNews (2.6 million downloads). The Japanese app, which released a US version in 2014, aims to provide readers with multiple views of a story to try and get them out of filter bubbles.
However, apps from news publishers with stronger ideological leanings performed well, while conservative and right-wing publishers also scored high for downloads. The Fox Challenger News Max TV app was the fourth most downloaded app in the US with 2.1 million downloads as of the end of November.
The Fox News app was downloaded 1.8 million times (the sixth most popular news app), while Fox Nation, the cable giant’s video streaming app, was downloaded 1.1 million times (making it the twelfth). Epoch Times apps and far-right network One America News were also among the top 20 most downloaded apps.
CNN (2 million downloads – 5th position) and New York Times (1.1 million downloads – 11th position) were the highest ranked news apps by legacy news brands.
The World’s Top News Apps
Indian news aggregator Daily Hunt was the most downloaded news app globally in 2021 (55.9 million downloads). It was followed by NewsBreak (20.7 million downloads) and Opera News (19.6 million downloads). Half of the top ten places were taken by Chinese and Indian apps; not surprising because of its large population.
Sports news apps were also popular. Top ranked was Cricbuzz (17 million downloads), serving India’s large cricket fan base.
The Google News app ranked 19th (5.7 million downloads).
News aggregation apps scored well globally, with twelve of the top 20 being aggregators. While mobile aggregators play a relatively small role in the media ecosystem of Western countries, they are much more popular in Asian markets, including India, Japan, and South Korea and, according to the Reuters Institute, are an important way for them to audiences find news.
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to allow news publishers to add external payment links in their apps to avoid paying Apple’s standard 30% fee for purchases made through the App Store. The change, which will take effect in 2022, will allow news publishers better access to user data and save them a significant amount in fees.