Michael Jackson memorial ratings: 31 million watch

Michaeljackson_lifeinpics_290 Close to 31 million people tuned in to the memorial service for Michael Jackson Tuesday, a huge number for a midday broadcast in the middle of the summer.

Nielsen says 30.9 million viewers watched the service, which aired on 18 different networks and featured performances and words of remembrance from Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Brooke Shields, Jermaine Jackson and many others. That total is probably only a fraction of the total audience in the U.S., however, as web traffic surged.

The overseas audience was huge too. Coverage on BBC2 in the United Kingdom averaged 4 million viewers, and about 2 million more people watched on Channel Five and Sky News. A whopping 20 million people in Germany tuned in.

MNSBC.com broke a single-day record with 19 million video streams on Tuesday, and CNN delivered almost 10 million streams just between noon and 5 p.m. ET.

The TV audience for Jackson's memorial was on par with other recent funerals of renowned figures. Former President Ronald Reagan's burial ceremony in 2005 was seen more than 35 million people; 33 million tuned in to Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

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