Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

OK, OK: Turns Out You Guys Really Do Want to Watch Michael Jackson’s Funeral on the Web

Looks like I called this one wrong: Earlier in the day, I predicted that Web interest in Michael Jackson’s funeral/memorial would be less than expected because anyone who really cared about this would be watching on TV.

Nope.

Check out these snapshots of Akamai’s live traffic meters, which I took shortly after 1 pm EDT. They indicate that the Web infrastructure company’s clients are serving up more than 109 million customers per minute–more than they have at any other period this year, including Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Akamai (AKAM) doesn’t represent all of the Web, but since it’s by far the biggest content delivery network service, it’s a pretty darn good proxy. The previous record appears to have been 90.6 million, set last month during the Iranian elections (click to enlarge):

jackson-visitors-per-minute

UPDATE: The Akamai folks want me to note that this chart measures overall Web traffic, not just traffic to news sites, etc. Which means that there could be other factors pushing up traffic today — large software downloads, etc. And, for that matter, if you look at Akamai’s peak traffic days over the last year, you’ll note that they’ve increased nearly every month. So while we can say that Akamai’s was serving more Internet traffic at 1pm eastern time than it has at anytime in the last year, we can’t draw a straight line between that fact and the fact that Jackson event was happening at the same time. But I’m going to go ahead and draw a dotted line.

UPDATE 2: Now I see why the Akamai folks were so cautious. New stats indicate that the event was big on the Web, but not as big as the Obama inauguration.

Meanwhile, while I didn’t actually go ahead and write this, my hunch was that any Web traffic we did see today might come from countries outside the U.S. that either didn’t get a TV feed or that cared about Jackson much more than Americans did.

But Akamai’s visualization of traffic to news sites world-wide says I would have been wrong about that, too: Almost all of the traffic is being served up by American news sites, and traffic to sites around the world is down for this time of day.

jackson-worldwide-breakdown

But here’s the thing I still don’t get: All of this has been happening when there has been nothing to see. Here’s a representative screen grab of ABC’s live feed, which I took around 1:10 pm Eastern Time.

jackson-abc

OK. Have at it. I’ll be back later in day with whatever other traffic tidbits I can round up.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik