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Royal wedding boosts Internet traffic, crashes BBC website

facebook twitter youtubeAs life on the streets of central London slowly returns to some semblance of normality following yesterday’s royal wedding, a picture is starting to emerge of the kind of impact the day’s events had on web traffic.

The UK’s BBC website, which can usually handle masses of visitors with both hands tied behind its back, found itself crumbling under the enormous weight of extra traffic to its site. Web pages took longer than usual to load, and a video feed of the wedding ceremony playing on the website crashed.

The feed was replaced with an “Error 500 – Internal Error” message telling viewers, “This might be because we are experiencing abnormal traffic to our network.” – though there was clearly no “might” about it. Interestingly, YouTube‘s live feed, which was being supplied by the BBC, carried on working.

Broadcasting & Cable reported a significant boost in web traffic in North America, despite the time difference which meant that the wedding took place in the small hours. Broadcasting & Cable said that “[the video carrier] Akamai, which handled the transmission of live streams from the royal wedding for Fox News, CBS and about two dozen outlets from around the world over its network, reported peak traffic of about 2.9 million live streams over its network during the event.”

Its report continued, “This figure includes live and on-demand streams of both royal wedding coverage and unrelated video going over the Akamai network. No final breakdown of royal wedding coverage was available but seems to have been on par with the 1.6 million streams served by Akamai clients during the World Cup in 2010.”

Though official figures have not yet been released by Google, YouTube traffic was said to have seen “a clear spike,” said Broadcasting & Cable, while “early CNN numbers also saw a significant spike, with about 575,000 live video streams through 10 am ET. During that period, CNN.com had 21.5 million page views, up 61% over the average of the four prior Fridays during the same hours.”

Social networking sites also saw a rise in traffic. The BBC News site, now running smoothly again, said that “David Beckham was mentioned in 9,000 Facebook status updates within 20 minutes of his arrival.” Wife Victoria, however, “managed just over 5,000.” Yesterday’s top ten trending topics on Twitter (try saying that after a few glasses of Pimm’s) were all connected to the wedding.

In further evidence of high numbers of people turning to the Internet for coverage, PC Mag reported that Livestream’s “300,000 concurrent viewers of its wedding stream at 6am ET were a record for the company, breaking its previous concurrent viewers record of 130,000 viewers for the Oscars earlier this year by more than double.”

While it seems the royal wedding caused the Internet to take a few punches, it pretty much rolled with them and looks set to become an increasingly popular player for big events around the world. Hopefully the BBC will have sorted things out before the London Olympics kicks off next year…