More than 1 in 4 of the active U.S. Internet population visited a newspaper Web site last month, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The New York Times led the pack with 11.4 million visitors to its site, followed by USA Today and The Washington Post, with 10.4 million and 8.1 million, respectively.
The research followed on the heels of last week's report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which found a six-month decline in the average weekday print circulation among the top 20 U.S. newspapers.
Nielsen/NetRatings found interest in newspapers was still strong, but 22 percent of readers had shifted from offline to online sources. The majority of readers, 71 percent, still preferred the print versions, and 7 percent divided their time between the two sources.
Overall, the growth in newspapers' online readership outpaced the increase in Internet users as a whole, which rose 3 percent in October, the research firm said.
"These interactive features, combined with Internet users' thirst for up-to-date information, make newspaper Web sites an increasingly appealing choice for news,” Gerry Davison, senior media analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings, said in a statement.
Demographically, more men then women read online newspapers, 56 percent versus 44 percent. Readers with an income between $100,000 and $150,000 and those with a bachelor's or postgraduate degree were also more likely to head online, comprising 21 percent and 52 percent of visitors, respectively.