Tiger Woods Scandal Boosts Web Sites

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Many market watchers fear the Tiger Woods scandal could lead to a backlash for his sponsors -- but for online service providers, it's generated more traffic to thier sites than at any point since Michael Jackson's death.

At an investor conference, Yahoo's ( YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz explained that scandal sells more advertisements than morbidity, in reference to the legendary golfer and pop star.

Indeed, since Tiger Woods crashed his car outside his Orlando, Florida, home on November 27, Google ( GOOG) and Yahoo has seen a spike in search volume from people eager to read more about Woods and his alleged extramarital affairs. Yahoo says it has seen a more than 3,900% increase in Internet searches for "Tiger Woods" over the last 30 days.

Combined, the two engines process more than 80% of all Internet searches in the U.S.

Yahoo, which comes in second place after Google for search, actually outdid its rival in drawing more traffic to its sites from people searching in the U.S. for Tiger Wood's name, according to Hitwise, a research firm that studies Web traffic.

Time Inc.'s ( TWX) Golf.com site has seen traffic surge 600% since the news about Tiger Woods broke, about equal to the traffic generated during major golf championships, according to a spokesman for Sports Illustrated Group, a Time Inc. unit. Golf.com averages 2.4 million unique visitors a month.

Still, it's worth noting that Michael Jackson's death in June and President Obama's inauguration in January still generated more Web traffic than the Woods' scandal for both Google and Yahoo. Visitors generated twice the amount of traffic at the peak of the public's interest surrounding Michael Jackson's death, even on the heaviest days of searching for Woods' name, Google said.

Last Wednesday, Woods apologized for his "transgressions" in a statement that addressed his alleged extra-marital affairs. His sponsors have mostly stood pat, though Gatorade, a PepsiCo ( PEP) company, has been the first sponsor to drop a Tiger Woods product since the scandal began.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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