Inauguration Day, by the numbers

It was a record-breaker for the likes of CNN and Facebook, with Web usage soaring and video streams topping election night. But were all-time Web usage records broken? Probably not.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
3 min read

Updated at 6:41 a.m. PST on Wednesday to update statistics from CNN and Akamai.

From what early numbers are indicating, the historic swearing-in of President Barack Obama was not the biggest traffic day for the Internet. But for many social networks and digital-media sites, Inauguration Day shattered traffic and usage records regardless.

Here are the ones we've heard from so far. We'll be updating this list as we hear more:

Akamai. The content delivery network has some numbers out that indicate traffic on the Web peaked right before noon Eastern time, with about 5.4 million visitors per minute flocking to online news outlets. While this is 22 percent above normal online news consumption, per Akamai, it's not a record. Obama's victory in November pulled in nearly 8.6 million visitors per minute, and the 7 million mark has been broken by both a hotly contested World Cup soccer game in 2006 and last year's March Madness college basketball playoffs.

Akamai said later on Tuesday that the inauguration did break an all-time record for the number of simultaneous video streams.

CNN.com fail notice
Visitors attempting to access CNN.com's live stream of the inaugural address got this message instead (Click image for larger view). CNN was just one of many Web sites that got overloaded during the speech. Screenshot by CBSNews.com

CNN. It was a big day for the Time Warner-owned news outlet's Web site. It's been continually updating its statistics, but at press time, CNN.com said it has served more than 18.8 million live video streams, including 1.3 million at the same time right before Obama gave his address, since 6 a.m. EST. That's a record: Election Day served up only 5.3 million live streams. Apparently, it wasn't all smooth sailing, though. CBS News reports that CNN.com had a note posted for potential viewers who came to see the historic moment that said, "You made it! However, so did everyone else." (See screenshot at right.)

At 6 p.m. ET, CNN.com updated its statistics: There were over 160 million page views in a 12-hour span, along with 25 million live video streams--a new record for CNN, which had a previous high of 5.3 million live streams on Election Day. At peak, CNN estimates that it was serving 1.3 million simultaneous live streams.

Facebook. The social network, which partnered with CNN for a live feed of "status" updates (sort of like Facebook's equivalent of a Twitter post) pertaining to the inauguration, has put out some usage numbers and is still updating them. As of 10:15 a.m. PST, 600,000 status messages had been set using the CNN app, and an average of 4,000 Facebook status updates were set every minute during the inauguration. They peaked the minute Obama began his speech, with 8,500 status messages set in those 60 seconds. "Millions" of members logged into the social network during the live broadcast.

Mogulus. The live-streaming service powered online inauguration video streams for C-Span, USA Today, and other newspapers owned by USA Today publisher Gannett (which has a minority stake in the company). Inauguration coverage broke Mogulus' network record, according to early numbers, with 105,000 concurrent viewers and more than 1 million visitors total.

Hulu. The video hub, a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp., declined to provide any viewership statistics for Inauguration Day.

Our colleagues at CBSNews.com report that they, too, ran into trouble with their live stream of the inauguration speech, saying that many people could not load the stream around the time of the address due to overwhelming demand.

Twitter. Co-founder Biz Stone put up a blog post after the craziness had died down on Tuesday, saying that the rate of "tweets" (Twitter messages) per second hit as much as five times the normal rate, and that the rate of tweets per minute hit four times the normal rate. He acknowledged, though, that there was a lag time of two to five minutes for many users. The good news? Twitter, once highly outage-prone, didn't crash entirely.

The New York Times. No official numbers have been released, but a representative for the newspaper's NYTimes.com division said that early data indicates the live stream of the inauguration pulled in a record number of viewers compared to all the live video it's ever run. Not surprising.

Disclosure: CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, which also publishes CBSNews.com.