Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skyfall draws largest ever live YouTube audience

The Austrian daredevil smashed two freefall world records - and racked up some pretty impressive social media numbers in the process

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Yesterday evening, Austrian Felix Baumgartner jumped from 128,100 feet above the earth’s surface, smashing the previous records for the highest ever skydive and the highest manned balloon flight to become the first person in history to break the speed of sound in a freefall.

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But as the world watched the incredible feat via internet streams, and shared their reactions on social media sites, Baumgartner was also racking up some impressive social media stats. The 8 million viewers thought to have viewed his jump via a live stream on YouTube look to have made it the highest concurrent audience ever on the video sharing site (and with the footage having been streamed by more than 130 digital outlets, including TV stations across 50 countries, the overall real-time audience will have been considerably more).

On Facebook, a photo of Baumgartner on his knees, immediately after landing by parachute in the New Mexico desert, was shared 29,000 times, generating 216,000 likes and more than 10,000 comments within 40 minutes of being posted by sponsors Red Bull. At the time of writing, it has been liked by almost 495,000 people, garnering 14,500 comments.

And on Twitter, just prior to and during the attempt, half the worldwide trending topics were related to Baumgartner’s jump, knocking tweets about seven live NFL games, and even Justin Bieber, down the chart. Meanwhile, impressed tweeters, including numerous celebrities, shared their awe at the feat.

“One giant bloody leap for Felix, one even more gigantic leap for mankind,” said Piers Morgan, before adding “‘I jump from space’ – coolest chat-up line in history?”

“Never accept your limitations – because there are NO limitations. Viva Felix!” posted author Paulo Coelho

And one Twitter user, calling herself Elizabeth Windsor (‏@Queen_UK), was less impressed, having apparently achieved a similar feat herself: “Felix Baumgartner. Whatever. Try parachuting into an Olympic Opening Ceremony, moonbeam.”

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Finally, a ‏@MrBradCorey summed up everything Baumgartner had achieved, and exactly how inadequate it could make the rest of us feel, in less than 140 characters: “So Felix Baumgartner managed to skydive from 128,000 feet, trend worldwide and break youtube all in one day! Then here’s me… Lying in bed.”