In preparing for a business meeting yesterday, I was scanning back through our page views over the 4 1/2 years since we launched, and it occurred to me I'd never once taken inventory on what had been our most-read files ever.
So, hey, how about compiling that, right?
For anyone who doesn't know, we're connected to Google Analytics, the industry's gold standard for measuring website data, and have been since October of 2014, four months after we launched. In that time, anytime I've tracked how individual files fare, I've omitted our live files because they're big-time boosted by the heavy commenting at hand. But, if anyone's interested, the busiest live file we ever had was the Penguins beating the Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final at 73,635.
The top dozen-plus of all the non-live files were my columns, which is what you'd expect given that I've kind of been here the whole time, though we did have exceptions such as the news of the Derick Brassard trade, the Le'Veon Bell holdout, the Andrew McCutchen/Gerrit Cole dumps and -- believe it or not -- one very short piece by Matt Welch about West Virginia's football coach being tracked on some private LSU jet. I don't think we ever figured out why that last one went viral, but it sure did.
Anyway, here are the top five files of all time, all columns, in descending order:
5. Penguins' back-to-back Cups
Date: June 11, 2017
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Headline: Hold this one the highest
Page views: 29,710
Didn’t you think this might be No. 1?
I did, too, but it was badly beaten out, as you'll see. And I strongly suspect part of the reason for that was this Cup, like the previous one in San Jose, came back when our site was really struggling with crashes anytime there was significant traffic. I mean, the one in 2016 was the worst, where we were down for nearly three hours the morning after the championship.
Ugh. Bad memories. Maybe not for you, but definitely on this end.
4. Steelers collapse vs. Cowboys
Date: Nov. 12, 2016
Location: Heinz Field
Headline: If we're talking 'accountability'
Page views: 31,024
It's almost alarming how many columns criticizing Mike Tomlin popped onto this broader list. It's like he isn't popular with the fan base or something.
3. Penguins eliminate Jackets
Date: April 20, 2017
Location: PPG Paints Arena
Headline: Revenge without a handshake
Page views: 34,080
John Tortorella ... it’s like he isn't popular with the fan base or something.
2. Pirates at the deadline
Date: July 31, 2016
Location: PNC Park
Headline: What's wrong with these people?
Page views: 35,651
Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington ... it’s almost like they aren't popular with the fan base or something.
1. Steelers struggle vs. Browns
Date: Sept. 9, 2017
Headline: Why Ben was right to flip out
Page views: 40,639
I mean, I was happy with the piece, particularly in that it offered exclusive, original reporting -- always the main goal, even for opinion-based work -- on Ben Roethlisberger losing his mind on a slew of people on the sideline. But I'd never have pegged this for the top 50, much less the top overall.
What likely happened, kind of like that LSU jet that flew out of Morgantown, is that it got picked up somewhere nationally or did exceptionally well on search engines, social media and the like. That stuff can be really unpredictable.
Heck, maybe it was just people in Cleveland getting excited that the Browns almost won one of these meetings for the first time in a millennium.
THE COLLEGE VIBE
Our reader-suggested Campus Chatter feed, maintained by Hunter Homistek, drew 1,383 page views for the week, down 196 from the previous week and less than half the 3,228 of its first week. That's a bummer. We'll try that much harder.
On that note, our friends at the country's preeminent home for college sports coverage reached out to extend an offer to all our current subscribers: Six free months to any site on their network. That's a $50 value, given that their annual subscriptions are $99.95.
The offer expires April 1. So go now to their sign-up page and apply the following code: DKRivals6FREE
HUNTER TOON AT HAND
It's a bit overdue, but Hunter finally got the Rob Ullman treatment this week. Coming soon to a PNC staff map near you:
CHASING 1,000 DOWNLOADS
Our ongoing big goal is generating 1,000 new app installs by March 28, Major League Baseball's opening day, and we're off to a healthy start with 710 already, including 119 in the past week. Here's where to get yours for free:
• A few you have asked -- frequently and passionately -- for us to clean up our RSS feeds. That came up in an extensive meeting yesterday, and it'll be done soon. And yes, you'll be able to structure them based on team category. (If you don't know what an RSS feed is, trust me, there's no need to know.)
• In the imminent future, we'll be revitalizing our YouTube channel. It's currently at 709 subscribers, but the place had really been neglected by all of us. Chris Benson's going to change that. Hope you give it a look. Also hope you like how, at many readers' request, all our videos on the site and app are now available for easy landscape viewing, thanks in part to putting many of them on YouTube.
• We were delighted to sell 29 Valentine’s Day gift subscriptions. And genuinely surprised, as I'm sure we'd never topped more than a handful in the past. We'll be more mindful of that for future smaller holidays like this one. Thank you!
BACK TO BUSINESS
• Our daily active app users, averaged out over the past week, are at 12,066, broken down as 9,412 on Apple, 2,654 on Android. That total's minus-327 from the previous week. This figure will always fluctuate with the seasons and the news, so the goal is a steady, gradual increase, initially to 15,000, a number we've never achieved.
• Our daily page views, averaged out over the past month, are at 66,827. That's minus-1,552 over the same rolling figure from a week ago. The goal with this figure is also about a steady, gradual increase, first to 100,000, a number we've achieved only during Stanley Cup runs.
• Our most-hit article of the past week -- exempting live files -- was my Penguins column from Tampa at 8,668. (Special nod to Matt Sunday for his Garth Brooks coverage from Bradenton reaching 7,123.) The Penguins accounted for 125,371 of our page views, the Pirates 51,441, the Steelers 47,071.
• We're at 29,585 (+38) page likes on Facebook, we're at 30,036 (+59) followers on Twitter, and we're at 9,750 (+102) followers on Instagram. These figures are just for our official company account on each platform, not for us as individuals.
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