Mobile users in the United States turned to their phones and tablets to follow a mostly virtual Inauguration Day, propelling apps from news outlets and aggregators up the Apple App Store charts, Sensor Tower App Intelligence data reveals. Among all free iPhone apps on the U.S. App Store for Wednesday, CNN achieved the highest rank for a news app, climbing 530 positions to end the day at No. 41.
The news aggregator News Break was the second highest ranked app of this type on Inauguration Day, rising 13 positions to reach No. 65. Rounding out the top three, Newsmax climbed 43 spots to end the day at No. 108.
Sensor Tower’s preliminary data shows that CNN saw approximately 27,000 installs on January 20 from U.S. app stores, up 170 percent from 10,000 the day before. News Break rose 5 percent day-over-day from 59,000 installs to 62,000, and Newsmax climbed 14 percent from 35,000 to about 40,000.
Inauguration Day Outpaced the Election
News apps also saw a surge of first-time U.S. installs on Election Day 2020. At the time, CNN climbed 587 spots to end the day at No. 80 overall, while News Break rose from No. 111 to No. 103. Although Fox News ranked the highest among such apps on Election Day at No. 63 overall, it didn’t see the same degree of boost on Inauguration Day. Yesterday, it climbed 548 positions to reach No. 469 overall on the U.S. App Store, 406 places lower than Election Day.
The 2016 Election Drove Greater Adoption
Unsurprisingly, Election Day in 2016 also boosted news app adoption in the U.S. On November 8, 2016, CNN climbed 214 positions to reach No. 26 overall on the App Store while Fox News rose 166 spots to No. 50. The following day saw both apps propelled even higher up the chart. CNN ranked No. 1 and Fox News ranked No. 9 on November 9, 2016 as consumers remained glued to news surrounding the election results.
News apps also experienced a surge in installs on Inauguration Day 2017. CNN reached No. 2, up 351 spots from the previous day, and Fox News climbed 240 positions to reach No. 24.
The Top News Apps in the U.S.
News Break saw the most downloads among the top news apps in the U.S. during 2020, reaching an estimated 23.7 million installs from both U.S. app stores. It was followed by news aggregator SmartNews with approximately 9 million installs. CNN ranked No. 3 while Fox News followed at No. 4, with the two apps generating nearly 5 million and 4 million installs, respectively. News Home rounded out the top five with approximately 3 million installs.
So far in January 2021, the top five most downloaded news apps in the U.S. are led by News Break with an estimated 1.2 million installs, followed by Newsmax with about 863,000. News aggregator Opera News ranks at No. 3 with about 652,000 installs, and OANN sits at No. 4 with close to 407,000. CNN rounds out the top five with approximately 394,000 downloads.
Just as consumers are turning to alternative social media platforms in the wake of last year’s election, it’s possible we may also see a boon for alternative news apps. In the social media space, the now-removed Parler saw installs skyrocket around Election Day, reaching nearly 5 million in the U.S. during November and outperforming giants such as Twitter, which saw approximately 2.2 million installs the same month. On the news app front, Newsmax also saw a massive influx of new installs, reaching about 2.2 million in November, compared to Fox News which saw about 657,000 installs in the same month. Time will tell, however, whether consumers will continue using these apps or if they will eventually return to more established platforms and outlets.
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