CNN’s live streaming video of news events, previously kept behind a paid wall called CNN Pipeline, was ungated in July and traffic is surging. 

We are told that provided 5 million live streams in January.  Last Thursday’s debate in Los Angeles between Clinton and Obama generated 530,000 streams and the Republicans had 301,000. may well break streaming records tonight with CNN’s coverage of results of Super Tuesday.   Beyond the live streaming, there will be a dedicated staff of online anchors in New York and Atlanta.

To get the lowdown on what’s happening with with live video streaming and plans for tonight, I visited the CNN Election Headquarters in Manhattan earlier today and met with senior producer Alex Wellen.   (You can grab the video file here.)

Alex is a veteran of TechTV in San Francisco and is driving a lot of the integration between broadcast and the Web.  Good guy to catch up with and I am grateful he had time to speak with me on such a busy day.

The success of live streaming may well be part of dramatic traffic growth.  According to comScore numbers for December, the site had 23 million unique users, up 18 percent. had the fastest growth among all the broadcast and cable news sites.  It has nearly caught up to MSNBC, which had 24.5 million uniques, but grew by only 1 percent, according to comScore.

Nielsen registered uniques for December at a historic high of 33 million, second in the news category after Yahoo! and ahead of third place MSNBC with 30 million.

— Andy Plesser