Jackson memorial second most-watched in TV history

The Michael Jackson memorial service was the second most-watched funeral in history, finishing second only to Princes Diana's 1997 funeral in millions of TV viewers

According to the TV ratings service, Nielsen, 31.1 million U.S. viewers watched the memorial broadcast live for three hours Tuesday afternoon from the Staples Arena in Los Angeles. That was more than watched the 2004 funeral of former president Ronald Reagan.

The funeral of Princess Di, which aired in the evening in the U.S. , was watched by 33.2 million, according to the TV ratings service Nielsen.

The burial of Reagan, which aired on the evening of his funeral, was also watched by more people than the Jackson memorial service, musical extravaganze and tribute. About 35 million Americans watched Reagan's burial on TV.

The televised and internet streaming Jackson service was ubiqitous Tuesday in office, in homes, and on remote devicies across the nation. It was carried live on 18 networks, and was a ratings bonanza for Atlanta-based CNN, which, for a day was the most watched advertising-supported channel on cable TV.

CNN's live coverage of the service barely edged out rival 24-hour cable news channel, Fox News Channel (both had more than 2.3 million viewers). Almost 1.4 million cable viewers watched the service on MSNBC, but another 19 million watched the program streaming live on the channel's internet site.

CNN — which has been boasting about its internet audience — said it had the second largest streaming day in its history, with 10.5 million streams in all and 4.4 million during the memorial service. The network recorded 26.9 million streams on Inauguration Day.

CNN, which for the first time last quarter finished third to Fox and MSNBC for the quarter in prime time ratings, Tuesday finished No. 1 in prime time, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.