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Royal wedding a top destination for Web users

The royal wedding was a hit among Web users, causing spikes in traffic on Akamai's network of sites. Concurrent users even topped World Cup traffic.

Web traffic spiked early this morning.
Web traffic spiked early this morning.

The royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton went off without a hitch today--both in Westminster Abbey and online.

According to global CDN provider Akamai, "early data" has revealed that the number of concurrent users streaming the royal wedding around the Web outstripped the highest peak of concurrent users who watched the World Cup last year. Akamai plans to provide final numbers on that later today.

Even so, comparing the royal wedding's performance with other major events can be difficult. For one, workers in the U.K. were given today off, which means many of them were likely watching the festivities at home from their televisions. Moreover, the event occurred when many in the United States were still sleeping, which could have negatively affected the live feed of the event, but buoyed viewership figures on videos watched later in the day.

"There are a lot of factors involved with these live events, which is why we can't call one event the biggest or larger than another," an Akamai spokeswoman told CNET in an e-mailed statement today. "It's like comparing apples and oranges sometimes."

At 3:30 a.m. PT today, Akamai said that it saw traffic to global news sites spike in Europe with 1.6 million page views pelting pages every minute. As North American viewers started joining in this morning, page views hit nearly 5.4 million per minute to the news sites it services. At that time, worldwide traffic to news sites was 64 percent higher than it is normally.

Screenshot from a YouTube video just before the royal wedding vows were exchanged Friday. YouTube, The Royal Channel/ Screenshot by CNET

Broadband analyst Sandvine reported today that "real-time traffic in North America" was up 20 percent at 3:30 a.m. PT this morning, compared to the same time period last week.

Users have also taken to social networks to discuss the royal wedding. Both worldwide and in the United States, the royal wedding and items related to Prince William and Kate are trending topics on Twitter. A quick search on Twitter for royal Wedding-related tweets reveals people are still updating the site every few seconds with comments on the festivities.

YouTube, which partnered with the royal family to deliver the official live feed to the Web, told CNET today that it doesn't have any numbers to share just yet.