The Royal Wedding: Big Hats, And Bigger Viewing Figures

Royal Wedding

The numbers are coming in on just how many people tuned in to watch the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. While some are highly skeptical that the event pulled in the 2 billion viewers that the UK government predicted, the event — especially if you count not just the live, actual wedding, but the many, many spinoff stories covering everything from fancy hats to cake decorations — is firmly up there with some of the most-consumed events ever, and has definitely broken some online records. Here’s our snapshot of the figures:

CNN.com: Early figures from the news site indicate strong traffic online, on mobile and via social networks. On the day of the event, CNN.com had 45 million page views, up 45 percent on the last four Friday’s average viewing numbers. Video views (on-demand and live) were 7.7 million video “starts” (no note on “completes”), a 318 percent increase. 699,000 live streams within that.

On mobile, there were 5.4 million page views, an increase of 47 percent. Mobile video views in the U.S., the only country where it was available, seemed somewhat paltry — 90,400 — but that was a 739 percent increase on previous Friday averages.

And in a new metric that CNN hasn’t started to try to monetise, the broadcaster has released some stats on Twitter and other social media usage: 7,800 people commented on CNN’s Facebook pages during the event; its tweets were retweeted 2,400 times, with 8,000 mentions of the CNNTV hashtag during the wedding. CNN had 10,000 “check-ins” on its Royal Wedding coverage, with 15,000 stickers awarded through GetGlue. That generated around seven million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, CNN says.

Yahoo still has not released overall traffic figures (a spokesperson tells us these should be out by Monday) but did provide some early numbers. “Requests per second” were at a record-high of 40,000 per second (apparently the previous record was held by another recent event, the Japan Earthquake, which saw 33,000 requests per second).

In its morning coverage, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) sent 14 million clicks to its Royal Wedding content, with the top-two stories on the bridal dress and the balcony kiss together getting over six million clicks in that period. Women are clicking twice as much as men.

Yahoo says that its video streams had the most traffic of any live event ever on its site in the U.S., in Europe and in the APAC region. In the U.S. that record previously went to the Michael Jackson funeral, which had 21 percent less online traffic. On-demand clips are also seeing huge mileage so far.

YouTube: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) anticipated that its video portal would rack up a whopping 400 million viewers, although the company has yet to release how many people actually watched on the day.

Other online stats. Livestream, which partnered with CBS (NYSE: CBS), the Associated Press, the UK’s Press Association and Entertainment Tonight for coverage of the wedding, said that at its peak it had 300,000 simultaneous viewers of the wedding. PBS, which partnered with UStream, said that in all 500,000 people picked up its stream of the event, with the an average viewing time of 17 minutes.

Akamai (NSDQ: AKAM) reported a peak of 2.9 million live streams at the time of the wedding — but confusingly that includes traffic for wedding streams (it partnered with Fox News, CBS and other news outlets to transmit the event), as well as other content on its network unrelated to the royal wedding.

Social media. Twitter dedicated special servers to the surge of traffic it was expecting for the event, although it has not released any figures on what kind of traffic it saw on the day. Meanwhile Facebook says that it had more than 10 million messages posted about the wedding on April 29.

Printed media. A massive amount of coverage here, too, but not a complete shutout. An informal survey by The Wrap of leading newspapers across the world (as documented by Newseum) found that some 87 percent of them were featuring the wedding on their front pages. Online, some newspapers (such as The Guardian) were offering readers two different home pages: one completely taken over by the wedding, and one from an alternate universe where the wedding didn’t exist. Would be interesting to see how traffic compared between the two.

People.com also saw record-breaking numbers of its wedding content, with 162 million page views on the big day, more than doubling its previous record (76 million views); and surpassing all views of its royal wedding coverage prior to April 29 (150 million page views).

Live TV: Some 24.5 million people in the UK watched the wedding on TV, putting it behind the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer (28.4 million). The BBC says that 34 million people watched at least part of the broadcaster’s royal wedding coverage — that figure includes live iPlayer streams, as well as other channels such as BBC1 HD, but the BBC does not break out specific numbers for individual channels.

In the U.S. 23 million people watched the wedding live across major networks, according to Nielsen. ABC (NYSE: DIS) says that with 8.65 million viewers, it was the most-watched morning broadcast in 20 years on the network. Online, it noted that it had more than 20 million page views, with more than 3 million unique visitors.

NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) has collated all of its different networks, and viewing across all different programs, and said that 52.3 million viewers tuned in for wedding coverage. Within that there were 18 million video streams on MSNBC.com, as well as 23 million page views for E! Online, and another 3.1 million for the mobile site. NBC’s Royal Wedding app for iPhone, iPad and Android had 200,000 downloads.

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