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Streaming a Super Week
Super Tuesday news coverage benefited just as much from streaming media as did the Big Game, with all the major broadcast and cable players offering expanded—and in some cases, live and unfiltered—online video of primary-related events.
Wed., Feb. 6, by Tim Siglin

We seem to be in a week of Supers, with streaming video playing a key role during the Super Bowl and afterwards, with highlights and ads showing that post-game streaming has legs. Tuesday night's Super Tuesday was no different, with all the key traditional television news groups providing live feeds of their raw camera uplinks as well as simulcasts of their offline news shows.

Move Networks, which hosts ABC's ABC News Now, began coverage early in the day with Now's scaled-down version of the mainstream broadcast ABC News, complete with former on-air anchor Sam Donaldson. The quality of the stream was extremely good, even at close to full screen, and Move /ABC followed a trend that other news organizations were offering: access to premium service free for the day.

FoxNews.com had an interesting approach. Tapping the news feeds from the campaign headquarters of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Fox presented live streams alongside its official coverage.

The content was a typical raw news feed, complete with cameras moving rapidly to pick up certain shots. But political junkies who want to see the behind-the-scenes activities were rewarded with interesting moments such as catching the sole person on stage at Obama's headquarters standing up at 9:28 pm and saying "They want it" after which the all-star "Yes We Can" video put together by the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am popped up on the large screens. In the room, attendees began chanting the lyrics and swaying to the music, and a "choir" of sorts came out on the dais to start the pep rally and flank the senator as he prepared to speak to the nation on traditional TV.

CNN.com Live also did a similar free presentation of campaign headquarters and polling stations, although viewers were forced to watch commercials before they were able to view content. While CNN's feeds were also live camera feeds, they were overlaid with the basic graphics calling out each live location (Romney Headquarters, for instance) so that a reporter could step into the scene in a moment's notice and go live to air.

The handlers for the campaign headquarters were orchestrating for each of the different news crews, as was evident in watching multiple live feeds from the different news sites simultaneously, which was kind of like picture-in-picture-in-picture. For instance, CNN's first live report from Obama's headquarters didn't happen until 3 minutes after the "choir/pep rally" group was ushered out on to the stage, with the reporter commenting on how packed the event was, showing this same group over her shoulder.

The choice of music at each location was interesting, too, with Romney playing Journey’s "Don't Stop Believing" and Obama playing a mix of gospel, U2, and of course the "Yes We Can" piece.

MSNBC.com had the live NBC News video stream, as well as a few pre-packaged clips, but didn't seem to put additional live feeds up. Bringing up the rear, CBSNews.com had pre-packaged clips and a simulcast, but didn't require viewers to watch ads prior to watching the simulcast.

On the international front, the BBC didn't provide live streams, as it was late night/early morning during the time that poll results were being confirmed, but did provide a primer on what it calls Super Duper Tuesday.

"With 24 states holding contests to choose who they want to run for president," the BBC News Player text box next to the video feed says. "If you are still in the dark about what exactly that means, let Nicky Schiller guide you through everything you need to know."

One of the BBC reporters went on to say that social networking—and streaming media—play a big role in the "get out the vote" process.

"In many ways, politics is all about social networking - getting in touch with people, talking to them, and signing them up to your cause," said BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan. "So, it might not come as a surprise that in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, online social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace are playing a big role. Facebook was only in its fledgling stages during the last presidential election in 2004. This time round, all the major candidates have a presence on the site, which even co-hosted the televised presidential debates in New Hampshire."