Stephen Colbert At The 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner - Internet Popularity

Internet Popularity

Even though Colbert's performance "landed with a thud" among the live audience, clips of Colbert at the dinner were an overnight sensation, becoming viral videos that appeared on numerous web sites in several forms. Sites offering the video experienced massive increases in traffic. According to CNET's News.com site, Colbert's speech was "one of the Internet's hottest acts". Searches for Colbert on Yahoo! were up 5,625 percent. During the days after the speech, there were twice as many Google searches for "C-SPAN" as for "Jennifer Aniston"—an uncommon occurrence—as well as a surge in Colbert-related searches. The blog Crooks and Liars, one of the first web sites to host the video, not only recorded its busiest day on record, but Nielsen BuzzMetrics ranked the post of the video clip as the second most popular blog post for all of 2006. Clips of Colbert's comic tribute climbed to the number 1, 2, and 3 spots atop YouTube's "Most Viewed" video list. The various clips of Colbert's speech had been viewed 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours. In an unprecedented move for the network, C-SPAN demanded that YouTube and iFilm remove unauthorized copies of the video from their sites. Google Video subsequently purchased the exclusive rights to retransmit the video, and it remained at or near the top of Google's most popular videos for the next two weeks.

Both Editor and Publisher and Salon, which published extensive and early coverage of the Colbert speech, drew record and near-record numbers of viewers to their web sites. 70,000 articles were posted to blogs about Colbert's roast of Bush on the Thursday after the event, the most of any topic, and "Colbert" remained the top search term at Technorati for days. Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Doug Elfman credited the Internet with promoting an event that would have otherwise been overlooked, stating that "Internet stables for liberals, like the behemoth dailykos.com, began rumbling as soon as the correspondents' dinner was reported in the mainstream press, with scant word of Colbert's combustive address". Three weeks after the dinner, audio of Colbert's performance went on sale at the iTunes Music Store and became the No. 1 album purchased, outselling new releases by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Paul Simon. The CEO of Audible.com, which provided the recording sold at iTunes, explained its success by saying, "you had to not be there to get it". It continued to be a top download at iTunes for the next five months.

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