Though it feels like the 2012 election has been in full swing for some time, things really kick into high gear with this week's GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., followed by the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week.
2012, in fact, marks the 20th anniversary of the first use of email and websites in political campaigns according to Campaigning in the Twenty-First Century: A Whole New Ball Game? In the book, author Dennis W. Johnson offers an interesting timeline documenting other selected first uses of online communications tools, such as:
- Text Messaging - 2000
- Blogging - 2003
- Social Networking - 2004
- YouTube - 2006
- Twitter - 2008
A Wall Street Journal article reports the conventions are “coming of age as digital media events” this year, thanks in large part to the decline of traditional broadcast coverage, the skyrocketing growth of smartphones, and the introduction of the iPad. Remember, the iPhone was just over a year old during the 2008 election, the iPad was little more than speculation on tech blogs, and MySpace was still giving Facebook a run for its money. The following table shows some dramatic comparisons between 2008 and 2012:
What a difference four years makes. The Journal says the 2012 conventions will be the “most-covered ever online,” and the resources that the networks are dedicating to their coverage appear to support the statement. Network news figureheads Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams will participate in ABC’s and NBC’s live streaming coverage, respectively. And ABC is taking its production values to levels that will be indistinguishable from prime-time TV, Marc Burnstein, senior executive producer for special events at ABC News, told the newspaper.
It’s not just the networks who are allocating broadcast-quality resources to online convention coverage. Brightcove customer POLITICO has been on the ground for some time in Tampa and Charlotte with video reports of the build-up to both events. The political news site produced a time-lapse video (below) documenting the build-out of its Politico Hub in Tampa, which looks to be on par with the control centers created by its network counterparts.
Online video isn’t just transforming how political conventions are covered, it’s even changing who is covering them. Long the domain of the big three broadcast networks and later joined by the major cable news networks, the race to deliver the most current and up-to-date convention reports is wide open thanks to online video’s ability to reach audiences across devices and geographies.
While the Obama inauguration set the the bar for streaming of a political event, it will be interesting to keep an eye on consumption four years later with the addition of even more connected devices to the mix, not the least of which is the iPad, along with improved connectivity in general.