Planning to live blog the next major event? Here’s what to expect for Engaged Time, Recirculation, and traffic sources

Whether it’s unexpected breaking news like severe weather or one of the many elections planned across the world this year, readers will be looking for real-time coverage, and the best format for quick and efficient updates is the live blog.

In just the past year, live blogs kept readers up to date on top stories such as the Titan submersible and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. When breaking news events unfold over the course of hours or days, live blogs keep readers informed and engaged at the speed of news.

Because their style and substance differ from traditional articles, we wanted to see if there was a marked difference in core metrics as well. To do so, we analyzed live blogs published in 2023 across 35 large News and Media sites primarily in the United States. Here’s what we found.

Average Engaged Time for live blogs

In 2023, Average Engaged Time for all content in our network was 28 seconds. When we isolate live blogs during the same period, median Average Engaged Time jumps to 48 seconds.

While some live blogs engaged readers for an average of 85 seconds, 50% of the sites we analyzed for this study fell between 34 and 63 seconds.

Decoding the visual

To show the distribution of these values, we’re using box-and-whisker plots. The top and bottom edges of the box represent the 75th and 25th percentile values, and the horizontal line within the box represents the median. 

Distribution of traffic sources for live blogs

When we compare the distribution of traffic for live blogs to that of all content, we see a similar pattern with the exception of Social.

In traffic, engagement, and loyalty research from 2023, we found that pageviews from Social had declined to 12% of total pageviews. With live blogs, however, 75% of sites in our study averaged at least 14% of traffic from Social and the median was 22%.

Recirculation for live blogs

In a previous study on Recirculation, we found that News and Media sites had a Recirculation rate of 11%, less than sites with narrower focuses like finance or sports. With live blogs on News and Media sites, we measured a median Recirculation rate of 7%.

Since readers following live blogs have come to a site for updates on a specific event, it makes sense that they are less likely to move around to other sections and categories. That doesn’t mean that Recirculation as well as user experience can’t be improved through tactics like strategic placement of helpful related links.

Takeaways from the research

While deeply-reported articles still garner plenty of traffic and engagement, live blogs are important tools for providing quick updates during breaking news events. Whether your next live blog is this weekend’s Super Bowl or future political coverage, here are three insights to take with you:

  • Readers engage with live blogs longer than other pieces of content. The median Average Engaged Time for large News and Media sites was 48 seconds.
  • Social traffic is an important referrer for live blogs. Timely updates mirror the pace of social media and can help connect the conversation off site with coverage on site.
  • Recirculation is lower for live blogs, but audiences spend more time with them, meaning there are more opportunities to link readers to related articles.

Want to see how your live blogs, articles, and homepage are performing in real time? Sign up for a complimentary demo of Chartbeat.

*This study does not include scoreboards or stock reports.

More in Research