Coronavirus pandemic creates big appetite for news apps

March 20, 2020, 10:40 PM UTC

One upside to the current coronavirus crisis is that more Americans are reading the news.

Daily downloads of the Washington Post app are up 76% compared to January, while those for the New York Times are up 58% and the Wall Street Journal have risen 39%, according to research firm Apptopia.

Year-over-year, the Post‘s daily downloads are up 65% to a record 7,410 daily. The equivalent figure for the Times is 28,210 daily downloads (a 48% annual increase) and 6,460 for the Journal (a 20% gain).

Apps related to working or socializing from home—including Zoom and Rave—have seen similar upticks, said the report’s author, Madeline Lenahan. However, travel-related apps like Uber and Lyft are taking “huge hits.”

In the case of the news apps, Apptopia says it’s too soon to say if the surge in downloads will translate into additional revenue.

News publishers, including Fortune, have long provided large amounts of their reporting free of charge, but have become more assertive in recent years in asking readers to pay for their work. (Fortune’s new app is available here).

While individual publications like the Times have had increased downloads, Apptopia notes that it is news aggregators like SmartNews and News Break that are enjoying the lion’s share of gains. In the case of News Break, users downloaded the app a record 225,000 times on March 17.

Lenahan notes that downloads can be a “vanity metric” for companies since many consumers download an app and only use it once. But she adds that the recent download figures for news apps has been accompanied by a similar surge in daily active users—suggesting users are indeed reading more news during the crisis than ever.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

—Financial crisis looms as corporate America presses for coronavirus bailout
Tax deadline moved to July 15 due to coronavirus
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How working parents are navigating childcare during the coronavirus pandemic
—As oil slides on coronavirus and price war, the market looks for the new normal
Funerals in the time of coronavirus: How a pandemic is changing the industry
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: World leaders and health experts on how to stop the spread of COVID-19

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