In Depth

Online Viewership Soars for Inauguration

Obama trumped Obama, with many online news outlets beating their own traffic records on Inauguration Day to surpass their previous records from Election Day.

By 3:30 EST on Jan. 20, CNN.com had served more than 21.3 million live video streams, smashing its Election Day record of 5.3 million streams, according to data from CNN.com. The site also said it served more than 1.3 million simultaneous streams at its peak, during President Barack Obama’s inaugural address. In addition, CNN had generated more than 136 million page views by mid-afternoon.

MSNBC.com posted a strong performance, too, delivering more than 14 million video streams by 1 p.m. EST. The site had logged more than 80 million page views by that time. MSNBC.com offers a Web video technology known as Video Explorer, which lets site visitors search transcripts from past inaugural speeches for specific passages of video and then embed those clips onto their sites and blogs. That helped drive traffic to the site, MSNBC.com said.

Internet technology firm Akamai Technologies said Inauguration Day set records for simultaneous live viewership, with about 7 million active simultaneous streams at about 12:15 p.m. ET, when President Obama was being sworn in. Akamai said the inauguration set a record not only because it’s a historic event but also because it occurred during a weekday, making the Internet the only viewing option for many people.

A mere 10 hours after being sworn in, clips of President Obama’s inauguration speech had appeared in nearly 400 separate placements across various Web portals and sites, according to online video measurement firm Visible Measures. Collectively those videos have generated more than 200,000 views, a tiny fraction of the 5 million views his victory speech on Election Day generated.

The numbers might be low because most Internet viewers who tuned in watched the speech live. The Visible Measures numbers account for on-demand views of the speech.

The inauguration was the most popular topic on Twitter today, with 17,500 users using the term “inauguration” and nearly 35,000 mentions of Obama during the hour of his swearing in, according to Web measurement firm Trendrr. The research firm also reported that there have been more than 10,000 views videos tagged “inauguration” posted on You Tube in the last five days.

(4:55 p.m.: Added final three paragraphs)