Ever wondered which states read the Huffington Post and which go for The Onion? Or which region holds the most Al-Jazeera fans? Bit.ly may finally be able to answer your questions.
The link-shortener company is using all of the data it collects from clicks on bit.ly shortened web addresses to provide a real-time view of what media content different regions of the country are consuming, and where certain media outlets are most popular.
Simply go to their the Bit.ly Real Time Media Map website, and you’ll be able to see which of 40 newspapers, TV/Radio properties, magazines, and online-only content are preffered in each state. Click on an individual state, and you’ll see a full ranking of media popularity within the area, or click on a media outlet and you can view a map of which states are its biggest fans. Turn on real-time view (or hybrid view) and you even watch which sites internet users are visiting at the moment.
According to the bit.ly blog, their goal in creating Media Map was “to highlight which properties were doing unexpectedly well in certain geographic regions relative to the nation as a whole.” For example, is the Chicago Tribune (and the New York Times, for that matter) a truly national paper, or is its readership primarily centered around its headquarters? And which regions prefer NPR to Fox News?
In order to accomplish this, the company used a ranking algorithm that looks at disproportionate traffic spikes in certain regions instead of just totalling up the number of overall clicks. This way, the map can make out regional differences without being overwhelmed by the power of certain mass-media outlets.
Much of the Media Map’s findings confirm what many of us already suspected, but some of the data is genuinely surprising. Yes, the deep south prefers Fox and Californians can’t get enough of NPR, but did you know Al-Jazeera currently holds the top TV/Radio spot in New York? Or that the BBC is widely popular throughout the Midwest relative to the rest of the country?
It’s possible that some of the especially odd findings are simply anomalies caused by the current media cycle and which outlets have recently broken especially popular stories, but Bit.ly has actually created Media Map to solve this exact problem. Last March, Bit.ly partnered with Forbes to check out how 15 media properties were disproportionately consumed on a state-by-state basis. The results were promising, but the company worried that “the static visualization did not allow us the ability to determine if publishers own certain states in perpetuity or if loyalty switches based on certain stories getting traction.” With a constant stream of data, bit.ly hopes to be able to establish more firm conclusions.
Check out the map to see which outlets your home state favors, and if you’re from the rust belt or greater Virginia area, TIME loves you too!