Web Traffic Plummets Following Blackout

NEW YORK The blackout last Thursday caused online traffic in the U.S. to plummet 20-30 percent below the average, according to the latest figures from comScore Networks. The weekday average over the last two months has been about 73 million PCs online.

The shift was so severe that it pulled global Internet activity down several points below average, as well, the Reston, Va.-based research firm reported.

The power outage that hit the northeastern United States and parts of Canada solidified an already slow day on the Web, with hourly U.S. traffic running about 5 percent below average Thursday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Web activity began to return to near-normal levels around 6 a.m. on Friday, according to comScore, which measures global online behavior through a representative panel of 1.5 million Internet users.

After power was restored, some online news properties received a surge of traffic, likely from Web surfers interested in reading the latest on the blackout. Traffic to NYTimes.com, for instance, was up 13 percent on Sunday compared to the eight previous Sundays, a comScore representative reported. And MSNBC.com and CNN.com saw traffic increases of 10-20 percent over the weekend versus the like days over the past two months.