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Will + Kate = sixth-biggest Web event ever

John D. Sutter
People watched the royal wedding online as well as on TV, making it the 6th biggest Internet news event ever.
People watched the royal wedding online as well as on TV, making it the 6th biggest Internet news event ever.
  • The royal wedding is the 6th biggest Internet news event of all time in terms of traffic
  • World Cup and Wimbledon matches remain more popular
  • Friday's wedding may have broken records for people watching live video stream

(CNN) -- A record number of people may have watched live video of the royal wedding online.

But the Friday wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton failed to make the top five Web news events of all time -- being topped by various sporting events and the 2010 U.S. midterm elections.

Global Internet traffic on news-focused websites peaked at 5.3 million page views per minute at about 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday, according to Akamai, an Internet service provider and traffic monitor.

That makes the wedding the sixth biggest event in Internet history.

Top Web events:
1. World Cup qualifying matches and longest-ever Wimbledon match, June 2010: 10.4 million

2. European Cup games, November 2010: 6.4 million

3. First day of the World Cup, June 2010: 6 million

4. U.S. midterm elections, November 2010: 5.7 million

5. U.S. vs. Algeria World Cup match, June 2010: 5.6 million

6. William and Kate's royal wedding, April 2011: 5.4 million

Source: Akamai Net Usage Index

Figures are expressed in page views per minute, at the peak of readership

The top event remains a World Cup soccer match and the longest Wimbledon tennis match, which happened at the same time in June 2010. More than 10.3 million people per minute clicked on news stories about those sporting events.

Will and Kate did beat out President Obama's election in November 2008, which got 4.3 million page views per minute, Akamai says.

Of course, fewer people in general went to the Internet for news two years ago than do now, which makes these kinds of comparisons a bit tricky, said Jeff Young, a spokesman for Akamai.

"Technology has come a long way since then," Young said.

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The royals did better when it comes to live video.

The company Livestream, which provides live video services to the Associated Press, Entertainment Tonight, CBS and others, tells CNN partner site Mashable that it broke its all-time record for simultaneous live streams.

Some 300,000 people were watching the company's live video feed at 6 a.m. ET, Mashable says.

Akamai says it's difficult to compare live streaming events to each other, but that preliminary data suggests more people watched online video of the royal wedding simultaneously than any other event the company has provided live video services for.

The wedding slightly topped the World Cup in terms of live video. That sporting event saw a peak of 1.6 million people watch Akamai's streams concurrently.

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"Each year we are seeing more people consume video online at events of this nature, but it's very hard obviously to do that apples to apples comparison," Young said. How widely an event is syndicated greatly affects how many people will end up seeing it on the Internet, he said.

The interest in the royal wedding online does show how the Internet is changing the way people look for and consume information, he said.

"This is an example of just how important the Internet and connected devices have become to how people experience something like this," he said. "It wasn't the fact that people were at the office in front of their computers -- and yet still a huge number of folks have gone online to experience this event.

"That shows where we've moved as a society."

Big news events also have a way of testing the Internet's overall strength. Michael Jackson's death, for example, took down Twitter and Google News briefly.

Most websites appeared to perform well during the royal nuptials, but there were a few mishaps. The BBC's online video feed of the wedding reportedly crashed "at the moment that Kate Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey," according to the news site The Drum.

The BBC's press office attributed the crash to Internet traffic increases.

"We are experiencing some technical issues with BBC Online due to the sheer weight of traffic which may cause the site to be slower than normal in some cases," the company said in an online statement.

Twitter, which has had trouble surviving big news events in the past, appeared to be working normally on Friday morning. So did Google News.

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