LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers online via Sports Illustrated on July 11 and he broke the website’s single-day traffic record in the process.
A total of 6.1 million unique visitors clicked on the site that day and almost all of them were there to read about the NBA all-star’s homecoming. Over 50% of those visits came via mobile browsers and 32% of them were referrals from social networks.
The figure is 42% higher than the site’s previous record of 4.3 million UV set earlier this year when Richard Sherman — a controversial Seattle Seahawks defender — penned a column after beating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
Though Sports Illustrated execs might not have predicted this degree of success, it’s certainly no surprise that the biggest name in basketball’s decision to leave the Miami Heat generated a lot of headlines, traffic, and conversation.
As TheWrap previously reported, ESPN would’ve loved to have LeBron make the announcement at Thursday’s ESPY Awards. “Certainly, if LeBron wanted to announce on the ESPYS, I would have happily had him there,” said ESPYS executive producer Maura Mandt.
SI.com is doing something right because it’s their third record setting day in only 15 months.
On April 29, 2013 NBA player Jason Collins brought the site 3.7 million unique visitors when he came out as gay in a first-person essay written exclusively for the site, making him the first openly gay athlete active in the four major professional sports.