Call it a sign of the changing times: The Huffington Post had more unique visitors to its website than the venerable New York Times in May, outstripping the Grey Lady’s web traffic for the first time, according to data from market research firm comScore Inc.
The newspaper, owned by New York Times Co., has been experimenting with a new online revenue model for two months now — a paywall that charges readers for access to more than a certain number of articles. In April, the first full month of the paywall, nytimes.com had 32.9 million unique visitors, still ahead of huffingtonpost.com’s 29.9 million.
But HuffPo took the lead in May with 35.6 million unique visitors compared to 33.6 for the NYT.
For the period from May 2010 to May 2011, the New York Times’ website hit a high of 38.1 unique visitors in March 2011, just before the introduction of the paywall. HuffPo — the popular online news site that offers a combination of aggregation and original reporting and recently launched a Canadian version — has yet to see those kind of numbers.
Another factor in the numbers AOL Inc.’s purchase of the Huffington Post for US$315-million in February. The AOL news site now redirects to huffingtonpost.com. After the change, the HuffPo site saw a jump from 24.7 million unique visitors in February to 31.1 million in March.
In terms of newspaper websites, the Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal followed with 19.9 million, 18.4 million, and 13.9 million unique visitors respectively in May 2011, according to comScore.
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