Viewers opted for the Web over TV to watch Curiosity's landing

Many tuned in to watch the Mars rover, named Curiosity, survive its death-defying landing on the Red Planet on Sunday. NASA

More Curiosity fans took to the Web to watch the rover's highly anticipated landing on Mars than those tuning into cable TV.

According to Mashable, more than 3.2 million people viewed the nail-biting descent nicknamed "seven minutes of terror" via Ustream's live streaming platform on Sunday night.

"More people tuned in to watch the NASA Mars landing coverage on Ustream than many of the top cable news networks during Sunday prime time," Ustream spokesman Tony Riggins told Mashable.

The Mars rover settled into Mars' Gale Crater, surviving its white-knuckle plunge in remarkably good shape. After setting down on a flat, wind-swept plain, it began its trek across the martian landscape taking photos and collecting samples to find clues and learn more about the Red Planet.

At its height, 500,000 people were simultaneously watching the live landing on NASA's HDTV, JPL, and JPL 2 broadcasts via Ustream. While numbers like this aren't available for TV, Mashable cites research firm Nielsen's ratings for the night -- CNN had 426,000 viewers, MSNBC had 365,000, and Fox came in the highest with 803,000 -- which overall have lower numbers than Ustream.

Besides live streaming, NASA is also engaging audiences with a Twitter stream from Curiosity. The rover has been actively tweeting and answering fan tweets since before its launch last November. As of this writing, Curiosity has 862,365 followers.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

  • Dara Kerr On Twitter»

    Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

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