Jackson’s web video hits

MICHAEL Jackson’s funeral boosted traffic to major news websites by 20 percent yesterday.

Fairfax Media NZ group online editor Sinead Boucher said stuff.co.nz had 20 percent more unique browsers than on an average Wednesday. News.com.au editor David Higgins revealed his site had a similar spike in traffic.

Jackson’s death brought Stuff’s biggest ever day. Ms Boucher said her site experienced bandwidth peaks of three times the normal level as readers watched video from the memorial service.

News sites committed staff to the story in the early hours of Wednesday, anticipating the wave of interest.

Ms Boucher said stuff.co.nz switched to its “defcon” layout, which focuses on one key story. “We built photo-galleries, added lots of sidebars and opinion pieces, and asked for reader comments- which came in droves,” she said.

Celebrity news site TMZ.com, which broke news of Jackson being rushed to hospital, stayed ahead of the story, leading with its exclusive that the death certificate failed to state a cause of death.

At News, Mr Higgins said his team were now efficiently co-ordinating News Ltd’s wide network of resources for mega-stories such as Jackson’s death and funeral after the experience of the Victorian bushfires and US President Obama’s election.

Darren Burden, of Fairfax Digital, said the middle-of-the-night timing of the funeral limited the story’s impact on web traffic.

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