New York Times Live Streams Debates Too

Among the many places you can live-stream tomorrow’s much-anticipated vice-presidential debate, you might think of broadcast and cable news sites, or maybe online video portals and social networks. But one more we left out from our extensive list this morning is The New York Times, which ran its first live-streaming debate effort for last week’s debate, and garnered a significant audience without any advance promotion. Thursday’s vice-presidential debate will also run with an option to go full-screen.

The newspaper’s web site had a video player placed prominently on its main page for the duration of Friday night’s debate. A spokesperson for the Times would not disclose the total number of video viewers, but said during the first hour of the debate more than 20 percent of visits to the homepage initiated a video stream. She qualified the number by saying that this was visits, not visitors — but if we contrive a raw estimate from comScore‘s August numbers, when the New York Times Digital had 43.4 million U.S. uniques, that means an average of nearly 60,000 visitors per hour.

The Times, which uses Akamai for streaming, also provides live-blogging coverage of the debates, though it currently does not integrate the stream and the blog. However, two hours after the debate, it offers an archived video with a full transcript and keyword search that corresponds to specific moments within the video (for last week’s debate, the archive is of MSNBC’s broadcast, but starting this week the Times will use its own archived video). Internally, the Times calls this integrated tool the “Debatinator.”

Disclosure: GigaOM has a syndication relationship with The New York Times.

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