The BBC has topped a list of news outlets based on the sharing of content across Twitter by UK users, including UK news outlets themselves, in January.

Content from the BBC's network of sites was shared on Twitter 4.2 million times from 1 January to 31 January, followed by the Guardian with 2.4 million shares and The Telegraph with 900,000 shares.

The analysis includes tweets shared by news outlets based in the UK, except "non-news aggregators like Reddit and trade sites such as Mashable".

The top 10 news outlets on the list are:

1. BBC News – 4,265,000 tweets
2. The Guardian – 2,423,000 tweets
3. The Telegraph – 913,000 tweets
4. The independent – 616,000 tweets
5. The Daily Mail – 453,000 tweets
6. The Mirror – 452,000 tweets
7. Huffington Post – 422,000 tweets
8. The New York Times – 329,000 tweets
9. Sky News – 319,000 tweets
10. BuzzFeed – 235,000 tweets

The analysis, collated by the ranking platform PeerIndex, counted URLs from news outlets in tweets and retweets from "several million" Twitter users in the UK.

However, PeerIndex founder Azeem Azhar said that while the BBC dominated the list, it was not a "monopoly position" by any means.

"[The BBC] is still only the scale of the next three," he pointed out, with the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent figures combined just shy of 4 million.

Reflecting on the figures reported in relation to sites with a paywall, Azhar, a former journalist at the Guardian and The Economist, argued that "paywalls hurt sharing".

"You would expect The Sun and The Times, both strong brands with huge readerships, to be higher than they are had they not had paywalls."

The Sun has recently introduced a new social media team to lead efforts in this area, and it is worth noting that the Telegraph, which introduced a metered paywall last year, appears to challenge the trend suggested by Azhar, coming third in PeerIndex's list of top 50 news outlets.

Azhar also argued that the research helps illustrate how platforms like Twitter had made content from international media outlets more easily accessible.

"If I go back to when I started my career 20 years ago, probably only a handful of people read the New York Times every day in the UK," he said.

"Today we're at the stage where there are more than 300,000 shares a month of New York Times content [by UK users], so [Twitter] has really helped people transcend those geographical boundaries."

Azhar also noted that the Guardian leads the per-visit sharing rate, which he has estimated from the ratio of shares per 1000 visitors to monthly visitors (as reported by Quantcast). PeerIndex said the rate was based on "publicly available data from Quantcast" which did not feature statistics for all news outlets included in its own study, highlighting the BBC as one example missing from the line-up below.

PeerIndex Twitter shares 2
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"In the case of the Guardian, the per-visit sharing rate works out at about one to seven," he explained. "So for every seven monthly visitors they get a share."
"The next best are The Telegraph and The Independent, where in both cases it's about about one share for every 11 visitors they get each month.

"That demonstrates that there is something in what the Guardian is doing that is delivering them more shares on a per user basis."

Azhar added that he plans to do a similar PeerIndex analysis in a couple of months time to see how the results compare, and is considering also looking at Facebook and other social networks.

Correction: The Guardian, the Telegraph and Independent figures together total just under 4 million, not more than 4.2 million shares. The article has been corrected to reflect this.

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