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TOS: Who Has It?

We've made much of the "time on site" (TOS) metric here as one of the best indicators of how well a media site is serving its users. The latest Nielsen Online figures suggest a mixed record for the nation's largest newspaper sites in terms of TOS.

The New York Times is up four minutes and 42 seconds since July '07 and leads all newspapers sites with a TOS of 32 minutes and three seconds per average visit. That is essentially twice as good as the next newspaper site, USA Today, which weighs in at 16 minutes and 17 seconds per average visit.

Both of these companies have improved their TOS performance over the past year -- the Times by 17.2 percent and USA Today by 23.4 percent. But the list of newspaper sites that have fallen in their TOS metrics is sobering:

Washington Post (-20.3 percent)

LA Times (-9.3 percent) (-51 percent)

Atlanta Journal- Constitution (-58.6 percent)

With the local advertising advantages newspapers enjoy (which we blogged about yesterday) there is no excuse for these dismal performances. Somebody at each of these institutions has to study how to catch the Internet wave, rather than drowning in its wake.