REDMOND, Wash. — MSNBC.com had a spectacular year in 2006. The site received the two top awards in online journalism, National Press Club and Online News Association, received record traffic numbers and led the industry in online innovations. MSNBC.com was consistently the #1 TV news site averaging 25 million monthly unique visitors throughout the year according to Nielsen//NetRatings. That is 1 million more average monthly unique visitors than CNN.com and nearly 20 million more than ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com and FOXNews.com. Internal traffic numbers show MSNBC.com's average monthly page views topped 1 billion.
As online video became increasingly popular, MSNBC.com's video numbers surged. Video streams averaged nearly 60 million per month and in September visitors watched a site-record 88 million. September video traffic was driven by 33 million streams from "Today" including Meredith Vieira's debut, the first pictures of Suri Cruise and the death of Steve Irwin. On September 5, the day after his death, MSNBC.com visitors watched 9.6 million video streams, setting a site record for the most online video streams in one day. The video of Matt Lauer's interview of friends of Steve Irwin generated 3.7 million streams, the most ever for a single video. Until September 2006, the largest video month previously was August 2005, with 86 million videos played following Hurricane Katrina.
MSNBC.com's election coverage resulted in the site's highest traffic since the 2004 presidential election with overall traffic reaching 133 million combined page views on Election Day and the day after. Unique visitors climbed to 11 million the day after the election. MSNBC.com deployed new partnerships and features for its mid term election coverage. In September, MSNBC.com partnered with National Journal Group and launched an expanded politics.msnbc.com featuring coverage, video reports and analysis from NBC News and National Journal Group's Inside the Beltway publications and political experts, including Charlie Cook and Chuck Todd.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
• On Election Day, video streams from NBC News soared to nearly 5 million, the third highest day of the year behind only the death of Steve Irwin and the first pictures of Suri Cruise.
• The live stream of MSNBC TV featured on MSNBC.com throughout the two days drew more than 700,000 plays.
• Traffic to "First Read" (www.firstread.msnbc.com), NBC News' political blog saw record highs throughout the elections. With 90 posts on Election Day, 20 posts the day after and more than 1,500 unique visitor comments, the blog generated 1.4 million page views throughout the two days.
• The Democracy Dashboard attracted nearly 1 million page views.
• About MSNBC.com's election coverage, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in affiliation with the Pew Research Center:
"The site was relatively easy to navigate...And the site was set up to search quickly either by headlines, video, key races or discussion board." The report went on to say: "... this site [MSNBC.com] was really the place to go on Nov. 7 for hard core political junkies who wanted access to the fuller resources of the MSNBC/NBC team."
On aggregators: "With events moving quickly, aggregator sites such as Google, in theory, might seem a perfect place to get a handle on everything that is happening. After all, they can provide users with material from any number of sources and are less burdened with trying to promote their own branded material, which might in the end not be as good as what is available from others."
With NBC News, MSNBC.com delivered technology innovations in 2006 that enhanced video, delivered content on multiple platforms and connected with the audience:
• Video podcasts: NBC News and MSNBC.com launched free video podcasts of "NBC Nightly News" and "Meet the Press." Available for download at www.podcasts.msnbc.com, the full broadcast of "Nightly News" is available each evening at 10 pm, ET, and "Meet the Press" is available in its entirety after each Sunday broadcast at 1 pm, ET. In their first five weeks, the video podcasts have been downloaded nearly 2 million times from MSNBC.com alone.
• Mobile: MSNBC.com was the first major news organization to launch an ad-supported mobile site.
• Blogs: MSNBC.com's blogs saw great success in 2006. After launching "The Daily Nightly" in 2005, Brian Williams was the first network news anchor to launch a video blog. "The Early Nightly," recorded each weekday morning by Williams and other NBC News correspondents and producers informally reports on the day's news outlook and how "NBC Nightly News" is likely to cover it that evening. "First Read" and "The Red Tape Chronicles" also saw high traffic and reader participation throughout the year. Overall, MSNBC.com blogs averaged 2.2 million page views per month and drove nearly 25 million pageviews in 2006.
• Flash Video Player: MSNBC.com expanded its video functionality to include more browser types and Mac users. With the new MSNBC.com Video Player Beta, users of Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and other browsers can watch MSNBC.com on-demand video, delivered using Flash at www.video.msnbc.com. The new player automatically detects a user's system settings and delivers either the Windows Media or Flash file, depending on the browser. Advertising functions identically in both players.
Major 2006 Awards:
• In June, the National Press Club awarded MSNBC.com the prestigious "Best Journalism Site" award for the third straight year. The award honors "the best journalstic use of online technology to contribute to public awareness of a significant problem" and MSNBC.com's Rising From Ruin: Two Towns Rebuild after Katrina (www.risingfromruin.msnbc.com), is the focus of the award.
• MSNBC.com received the Online News Association's Online Journalism Award for General Excellence in October, which "honors a Web site that successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of the Web's characteristics and represents the highest journalistic standards." MSNBC.com was chosen out of a group of finalists that included the largest and most distinguished news websites in the country: The New York Times (www.nytimes.com), the Minneapolis Star Tribune (www.startribune.com), Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) and USA Today (www.usatoday.com). MSNBC.com won the same award in 2000. MSNBC.com also received the top Online News Association honor among large sites for the Outstanding Use of Multiple Media for its "Rising From Ruin" project.
• According to a study by the Pew Research Center: Among those who regularly get news online, 31% of consumers use MSNBC.com most often, more than eight points higher than its closest competitors. CNN.com and Yahoo! News rank a distant second at 23% each. Compared to its online TV competition, the difference is staggering. FOXNews.com, ABCNews.com and CBSNews.com were regularly used only 8%, 4% and 1% of the time, respectively.
"This past year has been tremendous for MSNBC.com," said Charlie Tillinghast, president of MSNBC.com. "In a year where major news events dominated our coverage, we brought our visitors a full spectrum of news and led the industry across the board: traffic, innovation and accolades. I'm looking forward to 2007."