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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