Coverage of Michael Jackson’s Death Rockets Web Traffic

The sudden death on Thursday (June 25) of pop legend Michael Jackson has unleashed of a flood of traffic over the past 18 hours on various news, entertainment and social networking Web sites.

For example, according to officials CNN.com enjoyed its second highest traffic day of the year yesterday in terms of page views, trailing only January’s coverage of the inauguration of President Obama. The site saw a fivefold spike in traffic when the news broke on Thursday afternoon; during the 6:00 p.m. EST hour CNN.com delivered 20 million page views, roughly one fifth of the site’s 103.7 million for the day.

As for video, CNN.com Live delivered 2.2 million million streams, marking the third highest day of the year behind the Hudson River plane crash and the inauguration.

For Yahoo News, Jackson’s passing drew an even bigger crowd than Obama’s swearing-in. The site set a one day record for unique visitors with 16.4 million, topping the 15.1 million visitors drawn on election day. Four million users visited the site between 3:00 p.m and 4:00 p.m. PST, also a record, and the front page story “Michael Jackson rushed to hospital” received a staggering 800,000 clicks in 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, as millions of fans sought out friends to share the news and mourn Jackson (as well as actress Farrah Fawcett), AOL’s AIM instant messaging service—which was undergoing a previously scheduled software update—was overwhelmed by an increase in usage and shut down for roughly 40 minutes. Said a spokesperson, “Today was a seminal moment in Internet history. We’ve never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth.”

AOL users have also turned out in droves to relive Jackson’s music. AOL Radio’s All-Michael Jackson saw an outrageous spike of  28,471 percent in usage, more than more than 45 times its normal traffic. Music lovers also flocked to CBS’ Last.fm, which following the Jackson news was streaming an average of 43,000 tracks per hour.

MySpace also became a huge outlet for fans to virtually gather and reminisce about Jackson’s career. Executives reported that the official Michael Jackson MySpace profile was adding 100 new friends per minute on Thursday and Friday, the fastest such friend accumulation in the history of the site. Plus, officials reported that MySpace Music was streaming an average of 100,000 songs every ten minutes in the hours after Jackson’s death.

Naturally, Jackson fans also turned to MTV–where the iconic artist made his name—to note his passing. MTV.com enjoyed its third largest unique audience of the year: 1.7M unique visitors, a surge of 79 percent versus the same day last week. Visitors streamed over 137,000 videos on the site on Thursday, and as 6 of the top 10 music videos were Jackson’s.

Sister site Vh1.com has seen a similar burst in Jackson interest. On Friday (June 26) 9 of the top 10 music videos being streamed on the site were Jackson’s, with the classic Thriller video dominating, said officials.