Internet traffic in North America spiked sharply Sunday night as users tracked news that the U.S. military had found and killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but fell short of record traffic levels due to the timing of the announcement.
Tracking from content delivery network Akamai indicated that traffic to news sites peaked at over 4.1 million page views per minute,well below the record levels of more than 10 million page views per minute seen for World Cup matches in June 2010. The difference? The World Cup was a daytime global event , while the vast majority of the the traffic seeking bin Laden news was in North America, owing to the late-night announcement. News broke of bin Laden's death at about10:45 p.m. East Coast time, when much of Europe was asleep.
But the traffic escalated quickly, particularly on Twitter, where news spread quickly. "Twitter reached more than 4000 Tweets per second tonight at the beginning and end of President Obama's speech," the Twitter communications department reported.
While the levels of traffic were not historic, they tested the performance of some news sites. "Very shortly after it was announced Sunday evening pacific time that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US forces Keynote Systems observed that the leading connected and mobile news sites began to experience performance slowdowns and streaming sites too groaned under the traffic load," said Keynote Systems.
We'll update as we get more metrics and data points.