Politics Driving More Live, Online Video Coverage

How super was Super Tuesday for sites covering the primaries with live video? CNN.com had a banner day, and served 2.7 million video streams and 600,000 live video streams according to Silicon Alley Insider. Hopefully that kind of viewership makes taking down the CNN Pipeline pay wall a sound business decision.

While the Washington Post declined to give specific numbers for its site’s live video coverage, the experiment was successful enough that they’ll be doing it again next Tuesday for the Potomac primary, when Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia will be doling out party delegates. “We’ve been doing video for seven years, and we’ve been doing live for six of those seven years,” Assistant Managing Editor for News Video Chet Rhodes told me over the phone.

It’s that kind of success that’s driving more and more live, online outlets as the growth in audiences creates room for more players.

MTV News’ spokesperson Jason Rzepka wrote in an email that visits to ChooseorLose.com and MTVNews.com, where the network was pushing live video feeds from correspondents around the country, were up 426 percent and 366 percent, respectively, over the 30-day average. Reports from the field were also aired twice hourly on MTV, but not distributed via affiliates like the AP Online Video Network, because the Flixwagon player format is proprietary.

Michael McIntee, executive producer for The UpTake, said the site saw live viewership decline from its coverage of Iowa and New Hampshire. But he chalked it up to the fact that the news networks are now touting their live video coverage and as a result, doing better than The UpTake in Google search rankings (MSNBC and Current didn’t respond to request for data in time for publication). “We had at about any given time 30-40 viewers, which is down from when we did Iowa,” McIntee said. When I tuned in to watch the New Hampshire returns, viewership was steady at over 100.

Veracifier manager Marc Boxser at Next New Networks said that viewership for the political channel’s content was “Definitely up, continued to be really exciting, but without the concentrated point of the New Hampshire primary.” He suggested that online viewing was mostly done by people at work, and that it declined overnight as people switched to watching on television — but because final results were late to come in from the West Coast, more views accrued as people returned to work Wednesday morning.

The Post had a different experience: “Our peak was actually between eight and nine o’clock [eastern],” said Rhodes, before it “trailed off through the evening, then stayed at a pretty steady pace until we ended at one o’clock.”

One lesson many have learned about the online audience this election cycle: “You put Ron Paul on anything and you’ll get hits,” McIntee joked.