Royal Wedding Breaks Records, Not the Internet

royal wedding

Updated. The royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton was a very gallant affair, and one that amassed huge global audiences online. Due to a large number of live streams available — including the Royal Family’s own official live feed on YouTube, as well as Tila Tequila’s commentary during the event — viewers from all over were able to tune in live from wherever they were.

Akamai said it saw a peak of 2.9 million simultaneous streams (live and on-demand) across its network during the event, a new record for the global CDN provider. That number is also nearly double the previous record 1.6 million streams it served for 24 broadcasters during last year’s World Cup. Akamai isn’t the only provider to see traffic spike today — Livestream also reported a new record of 330,000 simultaneous streams at its peak. While DPI vendor Sandvine plans to have a more comprehensive look at the impact the wedding had on traffic soon, preliminary findings show a 20-percent increase in traffic during the event. (More data will roll in as the day goes on, and we’ll update as it comes in.)

But let’s put these numbers into context: 2.9 million viewers, while gigantic for a streaming video audience, is a mere fraction of the number of viewers that live TV series amass every night. The last major royal wedding — between Prince Charles and Princess Diana — reportedly drew more than 750 million TV viewers worldwide, according to Guinness World Records. The Super Bowl averages more than 100 million viewers every year, and that’s just counting U.S. ratings. And the average American Idol episode gets more than 20 million viewers a show week after week, without any royalty involved.

That said, there were a few factors that could actually lower the total number of streams delivered during the event. For one thing, Brits — the prime audience for the wedding — were given a holiday during the festivities, so any that wanted to view it could most likely do so on TV. Unlike the World Cup, which had matches during the work day for many, streams of the wedding for U.S. viewers happened in the early morning hours before work when, once again, TV viewing was more accessible than online viewing.

Despite the large number of video streams during the wedding, the Internet didn’t bend under the strain of viewers tuning into the event, proving that fears of a global Internet collapse were a bit overblown. A spokesperson for Akamai reported there were no outages or problems reported during the event — although U.K. news outlet The Telegraph reported some issues in trying to access the BBC’s website earlier today.

In fact, while peak streams were high, the number of simultaneous page views for news sites was actually well below its previous record. Akamai hit a peak of about 5.4 million page views per minute for its Net Usage Index for News, compared to a record 10.4 million global page views per minute on June 24 last year, a day that saw multiple World Cup matches and the longest-ever Wimbledon match.

Update: This post was updated to reflect some clarifications Akamai made to the original data it supplied to GigaOM.

Update #2: Yahoo reports that is breaking records in terms of traffic and video consumption. Requests per second at the online media company have surpassed previous records, with 40,000 request per second compared to 33,000 per second during the Japan Earthquake. It also reported an all-time record for live video traffic, beating the previous record, the Michael Jackson funeral, by 21 percent. Yahoo also reported record video traffic in the EU and in APAC.

Ustream also reported strong numbers: Between 12am PT Thursday through 9am PT Friday, the live streaming firm reported 1.5 million unique viewers who watched 5.4 million total streams. Ustream broadcasters included: PBS News Hour, CBS News, ET and The Insider.

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