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Since the mid-September shut down of TimesSelect, (NYSE:NYT) grew significantly in September and October, and leveled off in November. The Old Gray Lady’s site crossed the 10 million threshold of U.S. unique visitors in October, a level of traffic not seen since February, 2004. This recent growth spurt brought back in the Top 100 Sites on the Internet.

Growth at outpaced rivals and (WPO), but not The financial news icon actually doubled U.S.-based unique visitors from 1.5 million in June to 3 million in November, despite residing behind a paid subscription wall.

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Incidentally, the biggest English news sites on the web are and (NASDAQ:YHOO), each with roughly 24 million U.S. unique visitors in November.

Since heavily promotes video and rich multimedia, a good engagement metric is Average Stay, which hovered between 8:00 and 10:00 minutes per visitor over the past year. At, Average Stay (and Pages/Visit) swung broadly in response to the financial reporting periods. Both have grown without sacrificing engagement.

So while stimulated growth by trashing TimesSelect, has somehow managed to double traffic in roughly the same period without tearing down that pesky pay wall.

Imagine the response when News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) opens up as rumored. If the recent deal with Digg is any indication, traffic to the site could grow as much as 12x on buzz and excitement. The deal permitted referrals from Digg to access freely, and stimulated a 12x increase in referrals in the two weeks following the announcement on November 13th.

A more likely, long-term scenario puts at 4x traffic growth, alongside its chief online rivals, and The latter finished November with 10.7 million U.S. unique visitors.

Source: NY Times Online Jumps Back Into Top 100 Sites