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Clifford Mangles Michael Phelps

Not since “The Civil War” has PBS been able to dominate its commercial counterparts, but the network supported by viewers like you kicked tail online in ’08. According to Internet metric maker Hitwise, PBS.org had more traffic over the last year than the Big Four (and the little two), beating out NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, MyNetworkTV and The CW for online visits, based on weekly traffic ratings.

PBS.org ranked No. 1 among the network Web sites for 19 weeks last year and No. 2 for 12 weeks for a total of 35 weeks at the top two spots. NBC’s Web sites and their heavy Olympics coverage came in second, with 12 and 12 for a total of 24 in the top two. NBC’s Michael Phelps phenomenon lasted but a month, after all. Clifford the Big Red Dog sat and stayed.

PBSKIDS.org, home of said canine, and PBS.org proper, broke their own traffic records in the year that just was. The parent Web site set a single day record Sept. 22 with 2 million visits, according to Google Analytics (the Ford F-150 of Web site analyzers). The site registered 20 million unique visits in October for a monthly traffic record.

The PBS Kids video player is getting nearly 1 million hits per week after soft launching last fall. The site beat out Disney and Nickelodeon kid sites in October. The PBS YouTube channel got 14 million views and routed 190 percent more traffic to PBS than the previous year. Kids are very, very good for PBS.org, given 46 percent of the sites audience is under 35, according to Comscore.

Jason Seiken, senior vice president of PBS Interactive said the increase in traffic was driven by search engine optimization and new products. More tweaking, a new video player and full episode availability is on deck for 2009.