A wide-open election, an embattled president, scandal-a-plenty: Matt Drudge’s eponymous website should be booming. So why is site traffic dragging? comScore says the site attracted 1.5 million unique visitors last November, down 10% y/y. And per the chart below, traffic to the site has been idling for the past year.
A couple possible explanations:
- Drudge’s traffic now mirrors that of cable news channels: A steady base that spikes with news events. In Drudge’s case, you’d expect to see increased traffic next year as the election moves into full swing.
- Drudge’s once-revolutionary idea — a no-frills, one-page link dump — is easy to replicate, and has been copied by news purveyors across the Web. And in general, there are many, many more places to get news on the Web than there were during Drudge’s Lewinsky-era heyday.
Worth noting that “visit” numbers which Drudge self-reports show y/y increases: 472,334,563 in Nov. 07, up from 416,996,929 in Nov. 06. And while those page view numbers can be manipulated by tweaking the “page load” rate with which the site refreshes itself, it’s those numbers that determine how much money Drudge can make, since each page view or page load is another opportunity to show a viewer an ad.
But Drudge’s flat or declining user base is a problem if he ever wants to cash out. Drudge still generates a ton of traffic for a one-man shop (which is itself a problem) and can wipe out a site simply by directing his readers there. But even in the more restrained, less-optimistic Web 2.0 boom, any investor/acquirer would want to see growth, and it will be hard to convince them that flat uniques and increasing page views are a good thing.
Portfolio has run a back-of-the envelope exercise and concludes that Drudge could fetch $10 million to $20 million if he wanted to sell. What do you think it’s worth? Sound off in comments.
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