Spike in traffic follows Jackson's death

News sites, video, Last.fm in a flurry of activity

More Michael Jackson coverage

Michael Jackson's sudden death on Thursday has unleashed of a flood of traffic over the past 18 hours on news, entertainment and social networking Web sites.

For example, according to officials CNN.com saw its second highest traffic day of the year yesterday in terms of page views, trailing only January's coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The site saw a fivefold spike in traffic when the news broke Thursday afternoon; during the 6 p.m. EST hour CNN.com delivered 20 million page views, roughly one-fifth of the site's 103.7 million for the day.

As for video, CNN.com Live delivered 2.2 million million streams, marking the third-highest day of the year behind the Hudson River plane crash and the inauguration.

Meanwhile, as millions of fans sought out friends to share the news and mourn Jackson -- as well as actress Farrah Fawcett -- AOL's AIM instant messaging service -- which was undergoing a previously scheduled software update -- was overwhelmed by an increase in usage and shut down for about 40 minutes. Said a spokesperson, "Today was a seminal moment in Internet history. We've never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth."

AOL users have also turned out in droves to relive Jackson's music. AOL Radio's All-Michael Jackson saw an outrageous spike of 28,471% in usage, more than more than 45 times its normal traffic. Music lovers also flocked to CBS' Last.fm, which, following the Jackson news, was streaming an average of 43,000 tracks per hour.

Naturally, Jackson fans also turned to MTV -- where the iconic artist made his name -- to note his passing. MTV.com saw its third-largest unique audience of the year: 1.7 million unique visitors, a surge of 79% versus the same day last week. Visitors streamed more than 137,000 videos on the site on Thursday, and six of the top 10 music videos were Jackson's.

Sister site VH1.com has seen a similar burst in Jackson interest. On Friday, nine of the top 10 music videos being streamed on the site were Jackson's, with the classic "Thriller" video dominating, officials said.