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Japan’s natural disaster drives big web traffic gains for news sites


     Cable and internet news networks experienced large web traffic gains Friday and Saturday as viewers and online users searched for updates on the earthquake and tsunami that brought devastation to Japan.

     Between 10:12 p.m. and midnight west coast time on Thursday, when news of the 8.9 tembler was first developing, CNN averaged 767,000 total viewers, a 173% traffic surge over the 281,000 the network has been averaging during that time period in recent months, according to the Nielsen Co.

During the same time period Thursday night, Fox News averaged 671,000 viewers, for a 46% spike.

This past weekend will go down as one of the top 5 internet traffic days of all time for the website, a network spokeswoman said. And a terrifying clip of the tsunami oozing across farmland, lifting trucks, houses and flaming debris is one of Fox’s top clip in the last two years.

As many have seen the networks are pulling out the stops with special tsunami-related programming this weekend. CNN altered its usual Saturday lineup with wall-to-wall disaster coverage. Fox pre-empted Glenn Beck’s Friday show for a news special hosted by Shepard Smith. The network also dispatched reporters Adam Housley, David Piper and Greg Palkot to Japan, who began reporting Saturday. 

Photo: A wall of water and debris rolls across Sendai, Japan, after an 8.9 earthquake late Thursday. Credit: NHK. 


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