NEW YORK CNN.com recorded 11 million unique users on Jan. 20 — the largest Web audience on inauguration day — besting rival online news giants MSNBC.com and Yahoo News by 1 million and 2 million users, respectively, according to Nielsen Online.
Based on Nielsen’s report, nearly all major news sites posted significant audience gains on Jan. 20, the day President Obama was sworn in, when compared to Jan. 13, a more typical Tuesday. And while nearly all news players were able to stream live video of the ceremonies, CNN, MSNBC.com and Yahoo dominated.
CNN.com’s tally represented a surge of 41 percent over the previous week. MSNBC.com’s Tuesday audience jumped 43 percent week over week to 10 million users, while Yahoo News’ user base climbed 13 percent to 9.1 million.
That ranking generally correlates with each site’s self-reported video streaming figures, all establishing new records.
Looking further down the news ladder, inauguration day proved to be something of a victory for FoxNews.com, which has been moving to shake its also-ran status in the Web news race over the last year. The site drew over 4 million unique users on Jan. 20, an increase of 15 percent versus the previous week — and more significantly, more users than AOL News. That site’s traffic actually dipped 9 percent week over week, landing at just below 4 million.
Meanwhile, though ABC News’ collection of digital properties trailed the leaders by a wide margin, they did enjoy the largest audience spike. ABC News’ audience jumped by 99 percent from Jan. 13 to Jan. 20, hitting 2.3 million uniques, according to Nielsen.
Besides driving tons of traffic to news sites, President Obama’s historic swearing-in generated a heavy dose of video sharing via YouTube. Yet history was not on everyone’s mind on inauguration day. Among the most linked-to clips that day were Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Obama’s inaugural address and “YouTube Street Fighter “ — a Web video game.
Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.