Whether it's news about the death of Osama bin Laden, the Royal Wedding, or sports, people are increasingly going online to get their daily fix. The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently found that, in the United States, Internet news sources are the second-most-popular way to get news after television. The rest of the world is also big on news, according to the Akamai Net Usage News Index. Since 2005, the Web-monitoring firm has been watching the traffic levels directed at about 100 of the world's most popular news sites to find out which events send the world rushing to the online home of the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, and other news sources. From the World Cup to the Egyptian Revolution to the election of Barack Obama, here's a look at Akamai's top 14 news days online.
Wimbledon and World Cup
Date: June 24, 2010
Peak views per minute: 10,357,646
Notable event: Sports junkies were entranced on a June day in 2010 when American John Isner and France's Nicolas Mahut kept battling it out under the London sun to move on to the next round of Wimbledon. The match went for 11 hours, 5 minutes over the course of three days, with Isner finally emerging victorious. At the same time, soccer fans were watching World Cup qualifying matches among the Group E and F tables. Countries facing off that day included Cameroon, Denmark, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, and Slovakia.
UEFA Champions League
Date: November 3, 2010
Peak views per minute: 6,363,725
Notable event: Soccer news claimed second place on Akamai's list as well, when London-based Chelsea took on Spartak Moscow and Zilina went up against Marseille during the UEFA Champions League.
World Cup Kickoff
Date: June 11, 2010
Peak views per minute: 6,039,434
Notable event: The World Cup in South Africa officially started on this day. The United States won one game and tied two during the worldwide tournament before losing to Ghana in the round of 16.
Elephants Stampede Into the House
Date: November 2, 2010
Peak views per minute: 5,660,658
Notable event: Republicans roared back in 2010 after being routed in 2008. The GOP took over the House of Representatives, and the Democratic lead in the Senate narrowed to 6 seats (down from 19) by the beginning of the 112th Congress. The media initially called the election results a repudiation of President Barack Obama's policies. After the election, Obama said that voters were "expressing great frustration [that the government hadn't] made enough progress on the economy."
And Then There Were 16
Date: June 23, 2010
Peak views per minute: 5,647,432
Notable event: On this day, Team USA defeated Algeria 1-0 to move on to the final 16 at the World Cup. The revelry wouldn't last long, however, as Ghana beat the United States 2-1 just three days later.
The House of WindsorDate: April 29, 2011
Peak views per minute: 5,398,731
Notable event: Wills and Kate were married at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, and the world went wild for the big event. Journalists descended from all over the globe, retailers sold royal refrigerators plastered with the couple's faces, and some Americans got up as early as 4 a.m. Eastern to watch the blessed event. Worldwide Internet traffic peaked that day at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
Date: February 2, 2011
Peak views per minute: 4,953,655
Notable event: News junkies in the United States were glued to the online version of Al Jazeera English during the Egyptian uprising centered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The world's interest in events unfolding in Cairo peaked around 5 p.m. Eastern during a day when thugs supporting the Mubarak regime tore through antigovernment protesters in Tahrir Square on camel and horseback. The attack, dubbed the "Battle of the Camel," sparked a night of rock throwing and other violence between the two sides.
Date: March 17, 2011
Peak views per minute: 4,925,274
Notable event: The NCAA's Men's Basketball Tournament is always a popular event, but with so many people turning to their iPads and the Web to watch the games, it's no surprise that the start of the 2011 March Madness tournament topped news-site Web traffic.
Date: February 6, 2011
Views per minute: 4,630,080
Notable event: Online news addicts were glued to the Web the day Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers triumphed over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Peak usage hit more than 4.5 million page views around 10 p.m. Eastern shortly before the Packers hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy at Cowboys Stadium.
Date: February 22, 2011
Views per minute: 4,612,644
Notable event: New Zealand's largest earthquake in 80 years struck the city of Christchurch around 6:50 p.m. Eastern on February 21. The next day online-news buffs were burning up the Web reading news about the disaster as well as the continuing drama surrounding other notable events such as the turmoil in Libya, the Wisconsin protests, and the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond A. Davis in Pakistan.
Date: February 1, 2011
Views per minute: 4,592,229
Notable event: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak tried to pacify antigovernment protesters on this day by claiming that he would not seek reelection. Ultimately, Mubarak's bid to remain in power failed, and he resigned from the Egyptian presidency ten days later, on February 11. Online-news traffic peaked during the February 1 address around 4:45 p.m. Eastern, 45 minutes after the speech began.
Date: March 11, 2011
Views per minute: 4,576,088
Notable event: A massive earthquake off the coast of Japan and the accompanying tsunami took more than 14,000 lives, caused tens of billions worth of damage, and set off a series of dramatic nuclear emergencies at several reactors in the island nation. Around 4 p.m. EST on the day of the quake, news-site traffic peaked as people searched for information about the natural disaster.
Date: January 23, 2011
Views per minute: 4,379,108
Notable event: The games leading up to Super Bowl XLV appeared to be a big moment for Web news. Traffic peaked around 12:30 p.m. Eastern in anticipation of the Green Bay Packers facing off against the Chicago Bears, while the New York Jets got ready to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other major news events that day included predictions for President Obama's State of the Union address on January 25.
Yes He Did
Date: November 4, 2008
Views per minute: 4,286,021
Notable event: Still ranking among major news events 2.5 years later is the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Traffic peaked around 11 p.m. Eastern, which was about the time the major networks were officially projecting Obama as the winner over Senator John McCain.
Despite being major news events, some stories just weren't popular enough to become one of the most highly trafficked online-news stories. Events such as the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Chilean miner rescue, and Michael Jackson's death all fell short of the top 14 online news items. "There are a lot of factors involved with why one news event might be bigger or smaller than another," says Akamai spokesperson Jennifer Donovan. "The World Cup traffic peak, for example, happened during the day when both the U.S. and Europe were in the office, and the only place to watch was online."