Nearly 55 million Americans visited an entertainment news site in May 2009, representing a 7 percent increase over the previous year, according to a new report from comScore.
Online video has also played an increasingly important role for content in the category, with the number of videos viewed growing 53 percent in the past year.
"With more than one out of every four U.S Internet users visiting an entertainment news site each month, it's clear that following entertainment and celebrity culture has become a popular online pastime," said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president.
"What's also interesting is that Americans are feeding their hunger for celebrity gossip by 'snacking' on these news updates throughout the workday. In fact, nearly half of all time spent on entertainment news sites comes from work computers."
Overall, Americans spent more than 893 million minutes or 15 million hours on entertainment news sites, with 44 percent of the total time spent during work.
More than a quarter of Internet users visited an entertainment news site in May. omg!, Yahoo's celebrity focused site, proved most popular with 20.6 million visitors, nearly doubling its audience in the past year. TMZ landed in the second position with 9.9 million visitors (up 7% over a year ago), followed by People with 8.2 million visitors.
Significant gains were seen by Usmagazine.com, up 325 percent to 6.5 million visitors, Entertainment Weekly, up 64 percent to nearly 4 million visitors, and The Insider, which grew 215 percent to 2.5 million visitors.
"May was one of the heaviest months on record for entertainment news consumption, but it will almost certainly be surpassed in June with the shocking news of Michael Jackson's death driving high volumes of traffic to these sites," added Mr. Flanagan.
"While most entertainment news sites will see gains in June, TMZ is primed for an especially big month as the first outlet to report the news, which generated thousands of inbound links to the site."
In April 2009, 34.8 million videos were viewed on entertainment news sites, an increase of 52 percent compared to a year ago. TMZ led the category with 2 million video viewers and 10.3 million videos viewed. More than 1.7 million viewers watched 3.8 million videos at omg!, while ETOnline attracted 1.5 million viewers who watched 3.9 million videos.