VT Web video captivates newsies

CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Yahoo! all post traffic gains

As the Virginia Tech shooting transfixed the nation April 16 and in the days after, consumers turned to the Internet, keying sizable increases in traffic to the portals of most major news organizations, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

For the week ending April 22, MSNBC's MSN Videos, which includes news clips, saw a 63% increase in uniques compared with the previous week, Net//Ratings said. NBC News had received a package of video, photos and writings from Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, some of which was posted on MSNBC and distributed to other media outlets. An MSNBC spokeswoman, however, could not confirm that coverage of the shootings led to its increase in traffic.

CNN's portal, meanwhile, saw a 31% increase in the period, and the Fox News Digital Network jumped 55%, NetRatings said. Yahoo News! was the most-visited news site of the week with nearly 21 million unique visitors, a 20% increase from the previous week, and Yahoo! Videos was up 21% in terms of uniques.

"The Virginia Tech shooting caused the biggest spike in video traffic we've ever seen," said Scott Moore, senior vp and head of news and information at Yahoo! "The numbers for news, specifically on video, went up four to five times the normal rate."

Moore said traffic to Yahoo! News peaked two to three days after the shooting. He said that like other big news events, people watched the events unfold live on TV but as that coverage subsided, they then jumped on the news portals. After several more days, usage went back to normal levels, Moore said.

Moore, who was with Yahoo! News during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said that for each subsequent big news event, "each peak is higher." He also mentioned that Katrina's peak lasted longer than that for the Virginia Tech shootings.

Yahoo! Video draws its clips from various sources, including ABC News Video, CNN Video and BBC News Video. It also has an agreement with CBS Corp. to post local news videos from the network's affiliates.

Nielsen Net//Ratings is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
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