MSN was second biggest English-language news site on Earth in September 2021

MSN News beta Android
MSN News beta Android (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • MSN scored second place in the race to be the most-visited site on the web, as of September 2021.
  • It managed 960.5 million visits during September.
  • The BBC's websites beat it with a collective 1.1 billion visits.

Microsoft makes the Windows operating system that promotes its browser Edge, which in turn advertises its news vehicle MSN. That trickle-down of Microsoft products is one of the ways in which the tech giant has managed to get to the coveted number-two spot on the "most visited sites in the world, as of September 2021" list (via Press Gazette).

The only thing able to beat out was a tag-team of BBCs: and, which combined managed a whopping 1.1 billion visits in September, while "only" managed 960.5 million. CNN came in at a distant third with 583.8 million visits.

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As mentioned above, it's not like MSN rose to that spot all by its lonesome. It had the power of Windows and, by extension, its default browser Edge to help claim the number two spot. If you've ever looked at Edge's default landing page, you'll notice it's filled with little boxes promoting stories about celebrities, movies, politics, and everything else under the sun. That's all MSN. And you landing there is part of how it gets its gigantic viewership figures.

MSN is a big-enough deal for Microsoft that it's helped spawn the likes of Microsoft Start and got a not-so-indirect shoutout during Microsoft's most recent quarterly earnings report. In that report, wherein the company stated it managed $45.3 billion in revenue for the quarter, it was mentioned that "search and news advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs increased 40%." In other words, Bing and MSN were big business for Microsoft, building off of Edge and Windows as part of one large, synergistic family.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • These numbers are really interesting. The big y-o-y negatives are probably due to it being an election year last year in the US. Not a single outlet from two countries with big English-speaking populations, India and Canada, are in the top 20, and yet a couple from Oz. NY Times #4, and BBC outdoes CNN by a mile. A lot of inequality in the top 20: BBC sites have 7x more visits than #10 and 11x more than #20. MSN's fellow aggregator Yahoo is still going strong, somehow. Fox is #6 globally but probably much higher in the US; I wouldn't be surprised if they were #1 or close. Another stat that that should make you worry about the future of democracy is that Russian propaganda site RT is #13.
  • Canada is sizeable, but isn't very large as English speaking countries go. They rank behind for example, Germany, which has almost 150% of Canadian English speakers. Add that to them sharing borders, cultures and therefore likely mutual news outlets with the US, and one can see how specific Canadian sites may be not show amongst the largest. India is more of a mystery. It is possible this listing only concerned itself with western nations.
  • i was surprised to see India nowhere too. But then realized my mistake. Yes, it has a huge English-speaking population, but digital devices infrastructure still has miles to go. Which is why tech companies like Microsoft or apple don't keep India as their priority now, but often they said something on the lines of "Yes, it has immense potential, since so many are yet to see the internet. and once those people come online, w'll begin our business there"
  • The big tech operations keep a presence there in expectation of "the day".
    A second point is that the bulk of tbe population has more immediate, local, issues to be concerned over.
  • Interesting indeed: in a Sherlock-ian way, if one pays attention to who *isn't* in the top 20.
    (Cough*MSNBC*Cough). Which used to be massive while MS ran it and plunged once NBC took over.
    Likewise: FOX is mostly US (and Australia), yes, but ABC, NBC, and CBS are nowhere to be found.
    (Dilution, most likely, since all three report exactly the same things, with the same slant, as CNN. FOX has the "virtue" of reporting different stuff. Counterprogramming. Plus they are actually *good* on non-political stuff, especially business and SciTech.)
    And, amusingly, FOX refers to NYT and WP almost daily, sending traffic their way. 😇 MSN doesn't surprise me because (yes, the UI is meciocre, especially the apps) they do maintain a pretty good semblance of balanced coverage, aggregating content from FOX as well as the...non-FOX sources and specialty sources like SPACE.COM, ENGADGET, etc. For a week or so they even tried a couple of Chinese sources but they didn't last; the pieces were too blatant propaganda from the MIRROR UNIVERSE™. Basically they substitute for the front page of most of tbeir sources and send viewers there.
    (And, unlike Google News, tbey *wilingly* pay tbeir sources which gets them paywalled stories.) Don't think they mind being second to the BBC.
    Being stealthily good is very Nadella.
  • If they would only make MSN better by allowing web page customization of news sources and categories it might squeek into number 1 position. Been seeing the " personalization options coming soon" message for years now.
  • Microsoft abusing their monopoly with the worst kind of advertised links possible: clickbait. But that exactly who MS has become…the kmart of the tech world.
  • What are you referring to?
  • I don't think you truly understand what a "Monopoly" is. What monopoly does Microsoft have exactly? Windows? No. Google has Android (far greater numbers) and Apple has iOS, both of which are viable competitors.
    Bing? No. Google still holds the lion's share of the search market.
    News? No. As stated in the article above, there are a number of viable competitors in this space.
    Advertising? See "Bing" answer above.
    Edge? No again. Chrome is still king of browsers, with Firefox also taking a big chunk (though technically you could include Edge in the Chrome stats as it is based on Chromium) There is clearly no "Monopoly" here that I can see (though I'm ready to be proven wrong). Microsoft is doing what any smart company would do and leveraging the services within their ecosystem to keep people in that ecosystem. You know who else does this? Google. And they hold a far, far greater share of the market than Microsoft and I don't hear you complaining about THAT "monopoly".
  • You forget: it's Microsoft!
    They're by defintion, eeeevile!
    Because they didn't roll over and play dead for IdiotPoliticians™.
  • I had an MSN account about 15 years ago. It came free with my Verizon DSL. That was about the last time I visited MSN by choice. I haven't been to BBC sites lately either, not since they started complaining about cookies this and blockers that. Aside: some sites on that list aren't actually news sites at all--just bill themselves as news sites (which is to be expected from propaganda organizations).
  • Um, I think everyone missed the pr0n reference Robert (writer) made.
    Probably for the best... :-D
  • "The only thing able to beat out was a tag-team of BBCs" LoL Get your mind out the gutter. 😜
  • Thank you, Apathy, for keeping this comment section dignified. And Wang... my goodness. The nerve.
  • Maybe now Microsoft will stop diverting maps to google maps if you navigate to on a phone. I do not want to use Google maps at all. Damn thing is not that accurate. Missed an interview for a job (piece of garbage was off by an hour - i also used to route plan + verify. But they too where using google map transport data which was just idiotically absurd) and was late to an university open day. So now I use the survey map view in bing maps to find landmarks, street names, different tube stations then cross reference different travel times between different stations, use the large tube map pdf to count the number of stations between the each route i'm considering. Use all that info to roughly extrapolate travel time (the trains during rush hour take 2 to 3 minutes per stop and after it can be 4 to 6).
  • That's strange, I thought that was one thing that Google did very well. Maybe that's just in the US?