March 26, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

It fascinates me how interested some readers are in ReelViews traffic statistics. Not a week goes by when I don't get at least one friendly inquiry asking about the site's number of hits. Hopefully, this column with satisfy all with such curiosity. For those who have no interest in stats, this will be a dull read. Skip to the last paragraph.

All statistics are post-Colossus. When I moved the site from to in August 2006, all my old stats went away. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Colossus had done a good job tracking traffic from 1997 until about 2004. After that, things went haywire. My log became too big for them to parse effectively and everything was suspect. Since moving to my current location, I have had no difficulty with stats and, since I'm "watching" them using multiple programs, I have high confidence that they're accurate.

There are three common measures of traffic: hits, page views, and visitors. My preference is page views. Hits, which refer to any download to a browser, are too easily manipulated. (A hit, for example, can be a tiny graphic embedded in a page. To increase hits, just add downloads to a page. Traffic will appear to jump.) For ReelViews, one page view typically represents about 3.5 hits. The visitors stat is interesting but, in my opinion, not as informative as page views.

On a daily basis, ReelViews receives about 65,000 page views from 33,000 visitors. About 1100 subscribe to the RSS feed. (That number seems low, but I can't complain since I don't use RSS feeds for any of the sites I visit.) Monthly, there are approximately 1,900,000 page views and 850,000 visitors. The site is experiencing slow growth. Traffic is trending upward, but gently. My estimate is that I'm picking up about 2000 new readers per month. Long gone are the days when the site would double or triple its readership in a year. It's also worth noting that I'm at or slightly above where I was when Colossus' sudden collapse forced me to make the emergency domain change. It seems that most readers have found me, thanks in large part to help from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, and MRQE. At least in the future, if I have to change providers, the domain name will remain the same, so the switch should be transparent.

What are the top five most frequently read reviews? I can't provide the all-time list because, as noted above, I don't have anything reliable before October 2006. I think my #1 all-time review is Revenge of the Sith. If I remember correctly, that was read more than 300,000 times. On opening day, it scored something like 40,000 page views and drove my bandwidth through the roof. Spider-Man 2 was also huge, as was last year's Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Ditto for the Lord of the Rings films and the Harry Potter series.

Currently, the top five since October 2006, are: (1) The Departed: 225,000 page views, (2) Borat: 158,000 page views, (3) 300: 115,000 page views (and counting - this one's still registering 2000-3000 page views per day), (4) Babel: 105,000 page views, (5) Casino Royale: 89,000 page views. The second-most read review of 2007 thus far is Bridge to Terabithia, which finished outside of the top 10 at 64,000 page views.

Two of the top five are surprises. The Departed has been read so many more times than anything else that I suspect there must be a direct link somewhere to it. Too bad there's no advertising on that page... I'm also surprised that Babel cracked the 100,000 mark. Casino Royale is artificially low because readership re-discovery of the site was around 75% when it came out. However, the entire traffic landscape will be re-arranged during the course of the summer.

Other random notes... ReelThoughts gets about 10,000 page visits per week (although many of those represent readers who come back multiple times). Many high profile older reviews have exceeded 4000 page views since October. That number is higher than I suspected. The War Zone, for example, has been visited more than 5000 times in six months. I wonder if that many people have *seen* the movie duirng that time frame. I have visitors from nearly every country (including China, where my URL has not been blocked), but 85% of the traffic is from North America (United States & Canada). 95% is from English speaking countries (which makes sense). Demographic information (the survey that occasionally shows up in the ad areas and which about 1000 people have thoughtfully filled out) puts the male/female ratio at about 70/30.

So those are the numbers. Dry stuff, but hopefully a few readers will find them interesting...

Coming Soon to ReelThoughts: "The Fifth Cylon (and other TV Tidbits)", "A Blu-Ray of Hope", "Naked Addicts and Clothed Strippers", "The Doctor Is in", "April Showers", "A Festival Comes to Town." I like planning ahead - the hard part is actually writing these columns (and don't be surprised if the order changes).