What audiences want after lockdown

When we pivoted our mastheads back to Time Out, here’s what our audiences wanted to read

This year has very much been a tale of two cities. Mandatory lockdowns were put into place in both cities in March, and by June, things were looking up in both. But while the situation in Sydney continued to improve, Melbourne was destined for a second, longer, much more heartbreaking lockdown starting in early July.

Time Out made the switch to Time In in every city around the world in March, and Sydney switched back to Time Out on July 1. Melbourne, however, didn’t make the switch back until November. Time In meant content centred around the home, and stories on how to bring the city to you. Switching the masthead back to Time Out, of course, meant the city was back, and we were back to doing what we have been doing for 52 years: encouraging people to leave their homes and get out and about in their cities. Time In content remains in a limited form, as we are still letting people know what content is streaming and encouraging takeaway and delivery for those who aren’t ready to return to a full social schedule out of the house. 

But now that both Sydney and Melbourne are unlocked, what do audiences want to read about? We’ve done a comparison of Sydney’s traffic in June and July and Melbourne’s in October and November to see what key differences – and similarities – there were.

Traffic to Time Out’s best restaurant features proved to be a great indicator of readers’ eagerness to explore the city post-lockdown. Despite differences in the cities’ lockdown timelines, one thing was evident: after lockdown, traffic to Melbourne and Sydney’s best restaurants features received significant surges in visits.


Once restrictions were eased, travel was high on the agenda, particularly for Sydneysiders. The best performing story in Sydney post-lockdown was about Australia’s international borders remaining closed until 2021. Sydney was also ready to get out into nature. Content about glamping, day trips, walks, national parks and winter getaways resonated with our audience. We anticipate that travel content will continue to attract a huge audience through summer, with people keen to explore and interstate borders finally open. Many Melburnians and Sydneysiders missed out on a summer holiday last year due to the bushfires, so we expect the pent-up demand to continue to fuel interest in travel stories. 

Meanwhile, restrictions were changing frequently in Melbourne in the second half of the year, so Melburnians were much more interested in news much closer to home – this story on how you can determine 5km (and later 25km) from your home is in the top five of the most read features on the Melbourne site this year. We also know Melburnians were itching to venture out to enjoy nature: our best day hikes feature also made it in the top five for the year, mostly driven by surges in traffic when lockdowns were eased.

Perhaps because they were feeling more cautious (and because the weather was better), Melburnians wanted to socialise outdoors, with best rooftop bars emerging as the best performing food and drink-related feature post-lockdown in November. Local travel content was also king for Melbourne as the city unlocked, with readers wanting to know about waterfalls, walks, day trips and how to book a holiday ahead of their summer holidays.

We also looked at what content Sydneysiders wanted to read in November and December, to give some hints as to where Melbourne traffic might be headed. Although travel content is still popular for Sydney, readers’ confidence in exploring their own city again seems to be returning with content including things to do this weekend, best restaurants, 50 things you should do at least once in your life, cheap eats and rooftop bars all topping Sydney’s traffic lists. These are stories that were consistent high performers for Time Out in the Beforetime, and in the coming months we anticipate Melbourne’s audience to also shift slightly from travel content back to city-based content after readers satisfy their itch to travel out of the city and get ready to rediscover their city once again. 

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