Abstract : In tandem with the cryptocurrency boom of late 2017 and early 2018, the industry has seen a corresponding surge in crypto news coverage. While mainstream media attention to the market highs and lows has soared, 2018 also saw a proliferation of new crypto-focused news sites.
Let's take a look at how the coverage has changed in 2018.
Using the free CryptoCompare API, we collected metadata on 64,605 articles from 25 news sites throughout 2018. What it showed was an interesting portrait of the evolving landscape of the cryptocurrency space, as market narratives change rapidly from month to month.
This chart shows the percentage of articles each month that covered topics in the following categories: Trading, Mining, Technology, ICO, Sponsored Fiat, Exchanges, Wallets, Market, Bitcoin and Blockchain.
Trading/Market Commentary On the Rise
Despite the crypto bear market of 2018, where cryptocurrencies fell precipitously from their all-time-high prices, the number of articles about crypto trading and market commentary actually increased as the year progressed, perhaps suggesting that these articles cater to an audience more interested in volatility than price. Whether this trend will continue into 2019 will be interesting, particularly if - as many suspect - the bear market has some time to go.
Sponsored Posts and ICO Commentaries Decline
One far less surprising finding was that the volume of both sponsored posts and ICO commentaries declined as 2018 unfolded. Perhaps the most important crypto narrative of the year was the bursting of the enormous ICO bubble as most projects failed to produce anything of real value and saw their token prices collapse. This trend is likely to continue apace in 2019. Whether “STO” (Security Token Offering) commentaries and sponsored posts will take their place remains to be seen.
Bitcoin Maintaining Dominance
Despite the enormous expansion of the altcoin market in 2017 and 2018, bitcoin maintained its dominance in news stories throughout the year, reaching nearly 42% by the end of the year. Blockchain articles too maintained their prominence - peaking at nearly 20% of articles in May.
Not “In it for the Technology”
Another interesting statistic is the decline in the proportion of articles focusing on crypto and blockchain technology. While much of crypto history has been the province of tech enthusiasts, 2018 heralded both increasing mainstream entry into the space as well as the influx of institutional finance. As news sites ultimately respond to what gets most views, both these factors likely contributed to the slump.
Average Number of Articles
While 2018 has seen a glut of new, smaller crypto media outlets, the larger players have been far from unresponsive to the bear market and the general slump in interest in the space. This was clearly reflected in the average number of articles published per publication - decreasing from over 360 at its peak in March to around 250 in December.
This chart shows the percentage of articles each month that covered the following cryptoassets; Ethereum, Tron, Tether, Monero, XRP, Ethereum Classic, DASH, Tezos, Cardano, Litecoin, ZCash and other altcoins.
In general, the news coverage spread on altcoins isn’t too shocking - with the proportion of news stories about top altcoins corresponding pretty neatly to their respective market caps.
A couple of standout altcoins were litecoin (LTC) and tether (USDT). Both saw news coverage in 2018 disproportionate to what their market cap would have suggested.
In the case of tether, this extra attention turned out to be one of the most prominent crypto narratives of the year, with speculation about the stablecoin’s dollar backing, ‘proofs’ from Tether Limited of the reserves, and swings in the price of USDT all generating a sizeable chunk of the headlines. Tether coverage hit a peak in October - accounting for over 10% of news articles - after the bitcoin-USDT premium hit an all time high early in the month.
Interestingly, despite having similar market caps - ethereum and XRP/Ripple saw quite different shares of the coverage, with ethereum significantly eclipsing XRP/Ripple throughout the year.