Pope Francis announcement a huge boon for CNN Digital

By Natan Edelsburg 

With last Wednesdays’s announcement that Pope Francis would be succeeding Pope Benedict XVI, the internet went into a frenzy. Pope Benedict XVI will forever have the distinction of being the first Pope to join Twitter. Soon after he stepped down, Benedict’s tweets from @Pontifex were taken down, as the account was transferred to Francis. Today, Francis sent his first tweet.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Pope Francis announcement was CNN.com, the world’s 80th most visited website according to Alexa.com. To see how much of an effect a major world news story have on a leading website’s traffic, here are some of CNN’s record-breaking numbers from Wednesday: 

CNN.com’s domestic site posted:

  • 10.7 million uniques – the highest day of 2013 with 450K more visitors than Feb. 12 (SOTU/Dorner manhunt)
  • 68.3 million page views, the second-highest day of the year
  • 5.6 million video starts, the second-highest day of the year
  • 1.4 million live streams – the highest day of the year, topping the previous record of 750K live streams (Inauguration on Jan. 21st)
  • Six of the day’s top 10 stories were related to CNN’s coverage of the pope.
  • (Source: Omniture, March 13, 2013)

Mobile usage on the domestic site also saw a significant boost for the day:

  • 12.7 million page views, the second-highest day of the year
  • Video starts were 103% higher than the benchmark with live video accounting for 61% of total video plays.
  • (Source: Bango Analytics, March 13, 2013)