Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Neil Wilkes and James Welsh founded the British entertainment website Digital Spy eleven years ago. The growth of the company, which was bought into the Hachette Filipacchi fold in 2008, has benefited from Britain’s salacious appetite for reality television news and celebrity gossip.I spoke to Digital Spy’s Strategy Director Anna Jones about the website. Each month it attracts on average 8 million unique visitors, with 78 per cent of those from the UK, an indisputably successful UK entertainment website.
The website grew with the rise of reality television in the UK. Digital Spy generated more traffic for fans of the now cancelled Big Brother than the show’s official website.
Most visitors venture to the TV, Showbiz and Music sections (from August 2010), which account for the majority of traffic. Celebrities delivering the most interest on the website include British glamour model and reality TV star Katie Price, the late Michael Jackson, X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, and Twilight’s Robert Pattinson.
The Digital Spy forum, which has categories for soap opera fans, fashion lovers, technology enthusiasts and celebrity watchers, among others, is what gives the entertainment website its true stickiness. For over four years, users have been contributing to and speculating on the ‘”100 per cent Alleged Showbiz Industry Hints” thread in the Showbiz section, which sits alongside long-running threads about Broadband, Food and Music.
On a daily basis, up to 30,000 messages are posted in these forums whilst 240,000 people browse. On September 10th, the number of posts in a day rocketed to 46,000.
Hachette is on to a winner with Digital Spy. It has user engagement and content across multiple interest categories; it could do with collecting user data (email and mobile numbers) to further commercialize its offering, but on the whole it is a website valued by Brits.
Leon Bailey-Green is an adviser to British internet companies.
Leon Bailey-Green has been following internet businesses and analysing online brands for over 10 years. Visit him at www.leonbaileygreen.com http://www.leonbaileygreen.com/
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