15 May 2019 News24 and Netwerk24 election coverage break traffic records

Media24’s two hero digital news brands – News24 and Netwerk24 – both shot the lights out with their coverage of the 2019 national and provincial elections, with News24 breaking all previous user and pageview traffic records.

News24’s extensive coverage and live results maps attracted over 2.16 million unique browsers* across its app, mobile web and desktop platforms on 9 May as the elections results came in.

Over 48 million combined pageviews were recorded on 8 and 9 May – election day and results day respectively – while the News24 live results maps had over 15 million pageviews during the course of election week. The data was seamlessly integrated directly from the IEC’s database, enabling up-to-the-minute displays of results which made for addictive viewing of the maps for both the national and provincial results.

“These incredible numbers are testament to the hard work and fantastic cooperation between our editorial and development teams over the past few months,” says News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson. “This is a proud moment in the history of News24.”

For the first time ever, News24 added election results projections to its coverage. These were produced by a mathematical model developed exclusively for News24 by elections analyst Dawie Scholtz. He used the shifts in voter patterns to accurately project the election result using a statistical model. This added a sophisticated new layer of interpretation and analysis to News24’s in-depth political coverage. Thanks to this information News24 was the first publication to project the election results before they were officially declared by the IEC. Live video streaming of commentary and analysis by top pundits and interviews with key politicians from the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria were other popular new features of News24’s coverage.

On the Afrikaans side Netwerk24, South Africa’s biggest subscription news site, saw traffic spike to more than 250 000 unique browsers* on 9 May and almost 205 000 unique browsers* on 10 May across its app, mobile web and desktop platforms. These are increases of 92% and 57% respectively compared with the average for daily unique browsers for April. Total pageviews on the site were 55% higher** during election week compared with the same period the previous week.

“This was no mean feat given the relatively small Afrikaans market and the fact we’re a paywall site,” says Netwerk24 editor-in-chief Henriëtte Loubser, adding that it was teamwork that made the difference. “We did live blogging for 85 hours straight, from 7:00 on election day when polling stations opened until 20:00 on Saturday when the official results were proclaimed. On election day we had unparalleled countrywide on-the-scene coverage with Netwerk24’s journalists in the field who were supported by colleagues from Media24’s community newspapers who were also filing from various regions.

“As the election results started pouring in our team at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria kicked into gear to provide readers with live video streaming, commentary, analysis and breaking news. Our colleagues on the development side built us impressive interactive maps and live results tickers to add to our digital toolbox. These kept readers engaged for long periods as they drilled down into all the detail and were even able to see exactly how results played out at their polling station. The interactive maps contributed to seven percent of pageviews on 9 May.”

In the run-up to the elections Netwerk24 did a podcast series featuring interviews with leaders and heavyweights from the big political parties. “Along with various email newsletters and the extensive coverage on the site this enabled us to fulfil our role of keeping readers informed in a variety of ways and building a healthy democracy,” Loubser says.

* Narratiive (South Africa)

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