Update 2: Obama Rocks the Web

NEW YORK  As the traffic numbers pour in, the inauguration of President Barack Obama is shaping up to be a Web video event like no other.

On Jan. 20,CNN.com Live served more than 26.9 million live video streams globally and 36.7 million streams overall. According to CNN’s internal data, that figure is more than five times the previous record of 5.3 million live streams set on Election Day last year, which at the time was record shattering.

Though total audience numbers are not yet available, CNN.com Live, which allowed users to select among four different cameras during the historic inauguration, served 1.3 million concurrent streams just before Obama’s address. All told, CNN.com generated more than 182 million page views on Tuesday.

MSNBC.com also enjoyed a banner day as a result of the inauguration. By 1 p.m. EST the site had delivered over 9 million live streams, more than 5 million on-demand streams and over 80 million page views.

To enhance its Web coverage — and possibly boost video usage — MSNBC.com used the inauguration to debut its new Video Explorer tool, which lets users jump to specific moments in clips by using language contained in that video’s transcript.

Meanwhile, Foxnews.com had delivered roughly 5 million streams by 5 p.m., the most ever during a single day, according to a company rep. Yahoo News also claimed its biggest traffic day, generating roughly 200 million page views (75 percent of which were photo related), which topped both Election Day and the recent Hudson River plane crash.

Indeed, while many sites are still pouring over their internal files to determine just how many folks viewed the inauguration online — and third parties such as Nielsen and comScore had yet to weigh in — indications are that the event produced the biggest day in the history of online video.

That certainly was true for Akamai, a firm the provides streaming technology and capacity for major media companies’ Web video efforts, including AOL News, Viacom and the sites of the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The company said the Obama inauguration set a record for concurrent live streaming via its platform: it handled more than 7 million simultaneously streams at around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

“In addition to the historic nature of the inauguration, it is now clear that this event has driven unprecedented demand from a global online audience,” said Robert Hughes, evp, global sales, services and marketing at Akamai.

Meanwhile, the social side of the Web also benefited from the surge of interest in Obama’s first day on the job. Facebook, which partnered with CNN.com to enable viewers to comment on events using their Facebook status tool, tracked 600,000 such updates as of 1:15 p.m., an average of 4,000 per minute during the live Webcast. In fact, at the very minute Obama began his speech, Facebook recorded 8,500 updates.

Web users were just as vocal on news sites. As of late Tuesday, AOL News had recorded more than 17,000 comments from users alongside its main story on the inauguration.
In addition, YouTube — which did not carry the event live — was fast becoming the place to catch short snippets. According to Web video metrics firm TubeMogul, early on Tuesday, 3.52 clips were being uploaded on YouTube every minute.

Overall, while the Web audience appears to have turned out in droves to watch and comment on Tuesday’s ceremonies in Washington, D.C., the live streaming of the inauguration was not without issues. There were scattered reports of streaming delays on several prominent sites and not every viewer was able to log on when they wanted.

At CNN.com, as demand increased beyond capacity, some visitors were greeted with the message: “You Made It! However, so did everyone else. This message means you’ve got your place in line to join our party. As soon as space opens up we’ll put you through.”

In a statement, CNN said problems were relatively few: “Judging from CNN.com Live’s experience, the Internet at-large performed pretty well at what’s likely to prove a significant new level of video throughput: another coming of age event for streaming video online.”

This story updates and replaces earlier items posted with revised audience numbers and additional information. All times are EST.


“Inauguration Frenzy Covers All Screens”

“Obama Inauguration 2nd Most-Watched in TV History”

“Three-Screen Inaugural”

“Online to Obama: We Can Police Ourselves”

“Sites Prep Massive Coverage of Obama’s Big Day”