RealTime IT News

Sports Scores, Travel Soars in Net Usage

SYDNEY -- Sport and travel are a major focus of user growth, according to new research released by Internet measurement and analysis firm Jupiter Media Metrix.

Unique visitors to sports sites grew by 33 per cent between February and March to reach 1.3 million, the highest number of unique users in the sports category since the 2000 Olympics.

While the Olympics were an obvious and universal attraction for users toward sports sites, this time it is the 2001 football seasons that are channelling much of the unique user activity towards sports online. The Australian Football League's official site afl.com.au helped move Channel Seven's online property i7 in Jupiter's top 25 properties list for the first time since immediately after the Olympics, with the site drawing nearly 110,000 unique visitors during February. In March, too, nrl.com.au drew nearly 102,000 unique visitors.

As the local cricket season wrapped up and as Australia played in test matches in India, cricket was also popular among Internet users with cricinfo.com gaining 141,000 unique visitors in March. The death of Sir Donald Bradman, meanwhile, brought 92,000 visitors to bradman.org.au in March.

Australians' fervour for sport spilled over to tipping sites, with oztips.com.au and footytips.com.au each drawing more than 100,000 unique visitors during March.

The pre-Easter and school holiday travel booking period also saw travel become a popular destination for Australians, with the category gaining 1.3 million unique visitors during March.

Qantas, which debuted its Frequent Flyer site in March, drew more than 400,000 unique visitors, while Ansett drew 300,000 before plane safety issues left much of its fleet grounded over Easter.

Discount airlines Impulse and Virgin Blue each attracted more than 200,000 during March, however Jupiter reported that closer analysis indicated a trend the company first observed in the pre-Christmas season. "The majority of Qantas and Ansett vistors are men, while the majority of Impulse and Virgin visitors are women," Jupiter stated in its report. "While the differences between the airlines' gender profiles are not great, they have been notably consistent month by month."

"Ansett's grounding over the Easter holiday period will have prompted a lot of extra site enquiries, added to which travellers will have been checking out alternative carriers, so we can expect to see a new record total of visitors to airline sites in April," added senior analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix David Sewart-Hunter.

Jupiter's research for March also indicated another area of large growth, with real estate sites seeing a 36 per cent increase in unique visitors.

While Jupiter ascribed some of this growth to a new announcement between real estate agent Ray White and realestate.com.au, it also cited improving mortgage interest rates as driving user interest in these sites.

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