By Jose Antonio VargasWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009; 7:29 AM
Susan Boyle is headed for the history books.
The online video of Boyle's performance in the reality show "Britain's Got Talent" has set the record for the number of views in a week -- and shows no sign of stopping.
According to Visible Measures, which tracks videos from YouTube, MySpace and other video-sharing sites, Boyle's audition has generated 66.3 million views. On YouTube alone, it's been viewed more than 30 million times. The 7-minute video that was posted on YouTube last Saturday and then widely circulated online easily eclipsed more high-profile videos that have been around for months. Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin has clocked in 34.2 million views, said the folks at Visible Measures, while President Obama's victory speech on election night has generated 18.5 million views. In less than a week, Boyle topped them.
But it's not just online video where Boyle, the unassuming woman from a tiny Scottish town, has dominated. Over the weekend, her Facebook fan page was flooded with comments, at some points adding hundreds of new members within a minute. The page listed 150,000 members on 1 p.m. Friday. It grew to 850,000 by 6 a.m. Sunday. Her Wikipedia entry has attracted nearly half a million page views since it was created last Sunday.
Indeed, the Internet is her stage, and the 47-year-old who has said she's never heard of YouTube is the Web's hottest entertainer. "She's really the world's singer right now," said Julie Supan, a YouTube spokesperson who in her four years at the company cannot remember a video raking in this many views in such a period of time.
One view at a time, Boyle's audience is proving that the social Web -- where users aren't just mere viewers but also distributers -- makes the digital world feel smaller and more connected. And her global popularity is a testament that the marriage between old media (her performance first aired on Britisn television) and new media (it then made its way to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook) is broadening the reach of all media, from one channel to the next, one person at a time.
As a result, at any given moment, someone is passing along Boyle online.