NEW YORK (AP) — News organizations have unleashed a multimedia blizzard of widgets, apps, dashboards, Twitter tie-ins and iPad doohickeys for Tuesday’s elections.
More than ever, the online and mobile offerings aren’t merely supplementary to Tuesday night’s TV viewing, but can function as primary sources for following the election results.
The 2008 presidential election, when Web traffic reached record levels, was something of a coming-out party for the Internet. The Web’s encore came at the Inauguration, when streaming video had its most dramatic day up to that point. The 2010 midterm elections, as experienced online, aren’t likely to provide the same technological turning point. But two years later, the Web-savvy coverage of Tuesday’s election highlights the growing sophistication of interactive media, social media and mobile apps.
Akamai Technologies Inc., which delivers about 20 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, showed rising traffic on Tuesday afternoon. Around 5 p.m. EDT, traffic was peaking at over 4.6 million global page views per minute. That’s one of Akamai’s highest rates of traffic in its five years of measurement. It’s also higher than the 4.3 million pages views during President Barack Obama’s election night win in 2008.
ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, The New York Times and even PBS are all offering live webcasts Tuesday night. New media partnerships helped pave the way: ABC News with Facebook; CBS with Google; and NBC is embedding their video coverage on Twitter. Politics blog Politico will stream its own webcast.
News organizations are putting a particular focus on getting election results straight to users on their mobile phones with apps that can give users specific results to their local elections.
Customization is often much of the draw of the multimedia offerings. CNN, for example, offers something called “My Election,” which allows users to select up to 15 specific races they’re following.
CNN.com, which had 27 million unique visitors on election day 2008, will also be going live to many acceptance and concession speeches, webcasting up to four at a time.
“We can go in a lot deeper online and mobile. People can dig deep into results,” says Manuel Perez, senior supervising producer for CNN.com. “They can also personalize results.”
Perez says because many of Tuesday night’s results may not come in until late at night, news websites may see numbers spike Wednesday morning, when people are catching up to the news.
Meanwhile, social media destinations such as Facebook and Twitter used their power to get out the vote.
Atop Facebook pages was a reminder that Tuesday was Election Day. A link was provided to help people find their polling place, and a running ticker counted the number of people on Facebook who clicked that they had voted. The fast-rising number was more than 4.5 million as of early afternoon Tuesday.
The location-sharing service Foursquare unveiled an “I Voted” badge that more than 26,000 users clicked on at their polling stations.
Conversation on the election dominated Twitter, which was still relatively nascent during the 2008 election. The Times’ website, which boasted extensive election coverage, attempted to diagram the dialogue on Twitter with an interactive feature showing which candidates were the most tweeted.
The Onion added comedy to the running commentary, posting Election Day tips, such as: “Young people should heed their civic duty and RockTheVote. Older Americans are advised to smooth jazz the vote.”
The most popular video online, according to Viral Video Chart, was “I Remember,” an anti-Republican ad paid for by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund. It was viewed more than 265,000 times.
The Associated Press