BusinessWeek Online's Weak Audience Numbers

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BusinessWeek is the only major business magazine on a weekly cycle (it does have two double issues). It is larger than Forbes and Fortune and brings in more money. But, the McGraw-Hill (MHP) property is extraordinarily weak online.

24/7 Wall St. was able to get a full thirteen months of visitor and pageview data for the largest financial websites. The information is pulled from comScore’s monthly website measurements and runs through August 2007.

BusinessWeek would seem to have a good print platform for driving web users. The magazine claims a worldwide readership of 4.8 million. The global edition of the magazine has a circulation of 900,000.

But, these figures do not drive much of an online audience. Based on comScore’s numbers, BusinessWeek Online had 1.893 million unique visitors in August 2007. That drove 11 million pageviews. Forbes Properties had 6.081 million unique visitors and 64 million pageviews. Dow Jones had 5.362 million unique visitors and 60 million pageviews.

BusinessWeek Online ranked 21st in pageviews among all financial websites in August, behind sites including TheStreet, Morningstar, Bloomberg, CNBC, Reuters, and Investors.com.

A look at the figures from August 2006 compared to the most recent month shows that BusinessWeek has gone from 27 million pageviews to 11 million.

While there is no way to say for certain why the website does not do better, there are a few things that stand out about BusinessWeek Online. The first is that the major stories are not updated regularly. The more successful financial sites update their major content much more frequently. BusinessWeek almost certainly has the staff to do this, but the only current information on the front page is from The Associated Press.

BusinessWeek Online does not make use of video content on its homepage. The market info charts are almost impossible to read. And, critical navigation for the Investing and Technology sections are below the fold instead of down the right hand side.

With print advertising falling each year, the online editions of major magazines become much more important.

BusinessWeek Online has a lot of ground to make up.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at douglasamcintyre@247wallst.com. He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.