Industry surveys show that the spike in Internet traffic to war-related websites was only temporary, and that traffic has fallen back to pre-war levels, reported Thursday.

Web surfers interested in the start of the war with Iraq produced a surge in the number of visitors to new sites like and MSNBC, as well as to foreign sites such as those of Al-Jazeera and the British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Service.

CNN and MSNBC were the two dominant U.S. websites, each experiencing a traffic increase of about a quarter in the month of March, according to Nielson/NetRatings. CNN drew in about 26.2 unique visitors during the month, while MSNBC attracted about 24.3 visitors to its site, reported Nielson/NetRatings.

The greatest increase for these two sites came on March 23, when footage of dead American soldiers and prisoners of war was revealed on an Arabic TV station, said

The number of unique visitors is determined by disregarding the number of times a single person might access a particular site. Rather, each person is only counted once.

However, the greatest traffic increase was seen in foreign websites. Al-Jazeera’s site saw an increase of 1,208 percent in the month of March, with 1 million unique American visitors. About a third of these visitors went to the English version of Al-Jazeera’s site.

BBC World Service also saw a large surge in its number of visitors during March, with a 158 percent increase.

Online research service Hitwise reported, however, that the percentage of traffic to sites like and MSNBC had fallen below pre-war levels by April 15.

“Americans are clearly turning to the Web for breaking news in times of crisis … the challenge for news sites, as they well know, is to turn event-driven visitors into everyday visitors,” said North American general manager for Hitwise Chris Maher, according to

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.