When a broadcast tower fire threw several Moscow TV stations off the air last week, many would-be TV viewers turned to the Internet. In some cases, traffic to news sites doubled from usual levels.
The sites reported few performance problems as a result, though one, Gazeta.ru, had to add a second server to handle the traffic, said Editor in Chief Vladislav Borodulin. Last Monday, 85,000 users visited the Gazeta.ru site. This was more than double the typical 40,000 daily average.
But Borodulin said he wasn’t sure that the increase was because people couldn’t watch television or simply because they were hungry for news. Site visits had also spiked during the Kursk submarine crisis the previous week.
Turning to the Web first for information about major news events is becoming more common in Russia, according to Tom Adshead, an analyst at Troika Dialog, a Moscow-based bank. “I think there’s a sense that the Internet news providers give more immediate coverage,” he said.