2016 Presidential Race Breaks Internet, Social Media Records

The 2016 U.S. presidential election broke the record as the biggest single live Internet event ever carried by Akamai Technologies and the biggest Internet audience for any news event ever. The company reports that live video streaming related to the election reached 7.5 terabits per second just before midnight Eastern Time on November 8. President Obama’s 2009 inauguration topped out at 1.1 Tbps, as a comparison. European soccer finals this summer, at 7.3 Tbps, held the previous record for live streaming.

According to Variety, those watching election news online could choose from YouTube (which streamed NBC News, PBS, MTV News, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks), Twitter (hosting BuzzFeed’s “Election Night ”); Periscope (for “The Ringer,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” “CBS This Morning,” Telemundo, Cheddar, SkyNews, Fusion and others); CNN Digital; CBS News’ CBSN; Facebook (whose partners included ABC News, The New York Times, “PBS NewsHour,” Univision and The Washington Post); USA Today; and Yahoo News.

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Other news outlets setting records include CNN Digital, with 27.7 million live streams of its “Election Night in America” coverage; CNN.com, which experienced its most-trafficked day ever, with 58 million global unique users and 424 million page views of content; and CBSN, which said it “set new viewership records in every category,” with a total of 19.1 million streams and 11.1 million unique viewers. The Young Turks, with 4.5 million total views, also broke its record for largest audience.

TechCrunch reports that, “Facebook saw an increase of almost 30 percent on Tuesday night, while Twitter traffic more than doubled,” according to broadband network company Sandvine. During the election, Netflix — usually the dominant source of Internet traffic in North America — saw its traffic levels dip 25 percent.

During the election, “total peak Internet traffic was down by roughly 15 percent as people watched the results, instead of surfing the web, as usual,” but, says TechCrunch, the findings are preliminary. Still, TechCrunch finds that, “when it comes to following breaking news across the U.S., many are still turning to television over web news sources, live streams, and online TV services,” and using tablets and smartphones as “second screens.”

Social media traffic spiked, it continues, because people were “reading and sharing their thoughts and feelings about the election” on those platforms.

TechCrunch reports the findings of mobile analytics firm Flurry, which center on how “Americans’ overwhelming election fatigue and disinterest in continuing to follow political news stories played out during the U.S. elections.”

According to Flurry, news reading on mobile devices dipped “immediately following the second and third Presidential debates.” After the first debate, news app sessions declined, with the exception of coverage of “major news events.” The largest uptick in mobile session growth came with the leaking of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

All this, says Flurry, points to “what was likely U.S. users’ overwhelming election fatigue,” which caused them to “disengage from the news cycle.” Flurry found that attention span for election news stories lasted “only around 48 hours per topic,” another sign, it says, of election fatigue.