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When royals wed, Americans pay attention
On Saturday, May 19th, I woke up early to run the Brooklyn half-marathon in 50 degree, rainy weather. Among the signs held by cheering supporters that made me forget, even if momentarily, that my shoes were full of cold water, were ones that said: “I’m missing the royal wedding for this!”
The amount of these signs took me by surprise. Were people really that into the ceremony? Did everyone around me record twelve hours of wedding coverage or was it just my mom who asked for help with the DVR?
Turns out 29.2 million Americans watched the ceremony live, according to Nielsen. Publishers and broadcasters have been capitalizing on the excitement, dedicating staff to cover the event and designing content for different platforms. Recode reported that Town & Country magazine received over 40% of digital traffic to royal coverage last month.
The special moment for the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex played out across the entire internet. Analyzing page views and articles in Parse.ly’s network in the days before and after the wedding on May 19th shows it was the single most popular topic for billions of readers and audiences online.
Attention for the royal wedding surpassed attention for Trump
On May 19th, attention to articles about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle soared. Articles featuring the bride and groom received almost 30 million views that day. In total, there were 6,000 articles written about the royal wedding.
As a benchmark, attention for the new royal couple surpassed that of Donald Trump. Trump was the most viewed topic in all of 2017, with stories about the POTUS accounting for five percent of page views in our entire network. On the 19th, Trump received two million article views, and on May 22, was still relegated to seventh place in most viewed topics.
Trump may have taken a dive in attention for the day thanks to the wedding, but audiences did care about the celebrity wedding guests. Attention for Serena Williams doubled overnight. Attention for both Oprah and fellow wedding guest Queen Elizabeth was four times higher than the previous day.
On the day of the wedding, people primarily searched for articles about Harry and Meghan on their phones. Mobile devices accounted for 70.2% of all traffic and search engines sent 32.4% of total referral traffic, higher than our network average of 23%. After Google, the top ways people found articles about the royal couple were Facebook, Twitter, and Flipboard.
In the days after the royal wedding, interest remained high
Royal fever was hot indeed, lasting well after the Gospel choir stopped signing (I had someone catch me up on the ceremony after the race).
Even three days later, on May 22nd, the entire royal family occupied the top six spots of most viewed topics across Parse.ly’s network. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle remained the top two, and spots three through six went to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace, Prince William, Duke of Windsor, and Charles, Prince of Wales. Presumably, articles that mention one of these people frequently mention the others as well.
Of the top 15 topics network-wide, only two, Donald Trump and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, weren’t related in some way to the royal family—unless Queen Elizabeth has some secrets she’s not telling.
On May 23rd, the network-wide top topics started to recover from the wedding hangover. While Prince Harry remained the most viewed topic in the network, Donald Trump crept back up to number two.
It may not have been a surprise to anyone other than me that audiences cared about the royal wedding, but even the most loyal Markle fan has to be impressed by her staying power with audiences. Cheers to the happy couple!