The rescue of 33 miners from a collapsed mine in Chile captured the world's attention and was among the most-watched video streams of all time, according to internet monitors.

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The last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, centre, raises an arm as Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, right, looks on after his rescue from the collapsed mine. ((Alex Ibanez, Chilean Presidential Press Office/Associated Press))

Chile's state broadcaster TVN reported that more than a billion people watched the rescue on television around the world.

Millions more watched on live video streams on the internet. Live-streaming service Ustream said it served more streams — 5.3 million — over the course of the rescue than during any one previous event.

The previous record holders were U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration, at 3.8 million total streams, and the July 2009 memorial service for Michael Jackson at 4.6 million.

Ustream pointed out that the Chilean mine rescue occurred over a longer period of time — almost 23 hours — than either of those two events.

CNN said it served more than two million live video streams by late afternoon on Wednesday, but that was still far behind the site's record of 26.9 million streams during Obama's inauguration in January 2009.

CBC.ca served more than 145,000 live streams of the mine rescue, breaking previous records for a news event.

Links for the live video streams circulated on Facebook and Twitter, and many people sought out the raw video from the Chilean government broadcaster.

Internet monitor Akamai said overall web traffic was 20 per cent higher than normal around the time the first Chilean miner was rescued late Tuesday. 

The company's Net Usage Index for News indicated that the Chilean mine rescue was the fifth most-read-about online news event since the service began in 2005.

The rescue trailed behind recent World Cup matches in June, the longest-ever Wimbledon match, also in June, and Obama's inauguration.