More than 24 million Britons tune in for royal wedding

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More than 24 million viewers watched the royal wedding on terrestrial television in Britain, broadcasters said Saturday, eclipsing the 21.7 million who tuned in for Charles and Diana's big day.

The BBC said an average of 18.7 million people watched Prince William marry his long-term girlfriend Kate on the main BBC television channel.

Once the BBC's 24-hour news channel and its online television service were taken into account, the audience peaked at 19.79 million as the ceremony got underway at Westminster Abbey, the broadcaster said.

An average of 5.9 million people watched on the other main terrestrial channel, ITV, peaking at 6.1 million.

Sky News, a paid-for 24-hour satellite channel, said it had a peak of 661,000 viewers at 11:00 am, the start of the wedding ceremony.

The current population of Britain is about 62 million.

Government ministers had estimated that two billion people would watch the wedding on television worldwide.

Record numbers of people also watched it streamed live on the Internet, and the interest caused trouble for the BBC website, which flashed up error messages during the ceremony saying it was experiencing "abnormal traffic".

The BBC website received more than nine million hits on the page featuring live coverage of the wedding, while Sky News said about one million people used its website, double the normal total.

In 1981, when William's mother Diana married Prince Charles at St Paul's Cathedral, 21.7 million people watched on television in Britain, according to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.

© 2011 AFP

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