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Buzzfeed News and Twitter bring election night coverage to mobile with live special

buzzfeed

The partnership with Twitter is a continuation of Buzzfeed News' longstanding political coverage

Media powerhouse Buzzfeed is partnering with Twitter to put on a live election night special that will carry few differences from its television network competitors’ product, aside from platform.

In the midst of an election where Twitter has spawned the majority of its commentary — not to mention altogether creating a candidate — Buzzfeed has opted to tailor its live election night special towards a younger, more mobile-savvy audience. The announcement comes as Twitter hopes to break into live video on a larger scale following successful pilots into debate coverage and sports broadcasting.

“Many consumers have adopted a multi-modal approach to media consumption, and thus will use Twitter while watching broadcast TV,” said Evan Neufeld, vice president of intelligence at L2.

“It's less a case of one medium versus another as it is about understanding the overlap between various audiences.”

Coverage comes to new media
Twitter had previously partnered with CBS for live coverage of the national party conventions before teaming up with Bloomberg to air the presidential debates. The decision to have Buzzfeed News— which has been capitalizing on the election, and especially Republican candidate Donald Trump, since publishing a flagship piece in early 2014— embodies the platform’s desire to continue to cater toward its most active demographic: millennials.

Donald Trump has leveraged Twitter extensively in his campaign

The metrics make the case for Twitter’s continued election coverage. Last Sunday’s face off between Hilary Clinton and Mr. Trump was the most Tweeted debate ever, with more than 17 million debate-related Tweets, in addition to being the most Tweeted day of the entire election with nearly 30 million Tweets sent overall.

Seventy percent of the Sunday debate’s live viewers on Twitter were under the age of 35, while more than half of all Tweets that pertained to the election were written by people under the age of 25. 

And most telling is that although broadcasters airing the second debate lost one-third of their viewership compared to the first, Twitter increased its debate viewership by a similar margin of 30 percent.

In many ways it makes sense that after trial periods with more established outlets for political discourse, Twitter would call on Buzzfeed for the real thing; the latter’s high engagement with the former’s target audience makes it a perfect fit in theory.

Sunday's debate was the most-Tweeted debate ever

However, for such a cutting-edge partnership designed to appeal to a new generation, the execution of the collaboration’s product is shaping up to look quite familiar.

Old model, new platform
The live stream will feature television-style mid-roll advertising in addition to original content produced by Buzzfeed that brands can latch on to and promote on Twitter. 

The move to recreate the television-viewing experience on mobile has disappointed some who believe that the transition of content traditionally geared towards broadcast isn’t as simple as applying a dated formula to a new platform. 

The mobile platform impresses its own demands on brands looking to leverage its increasingly viable space, and the portability of content delivery that mobile provides is not enough to break consumer inertia towards broadcast, especially with generally-inherited habits such as political consumption.

“Recreating the TV viewing experience on Twitter is a negative in my opinion,” said Dayle Rodriguez, community and marketing manager at Sentab. “On demand TV is on the rise; one of the reasons for on-demands success is the potential for uninterrupted viewing and less adverts.” 

“Adding scheduled adverts to Twitter streams could be quite frustrating for a generation of media consumers who prefer less on screen advertising. It will just make Twitter seem like mainstream TV, which defeats the idea somewhat.”

“Twitter isn't NBC and my iPhone is not a 50 inch plasma TV: Digital mandates original models for advertising, especially when video is concerned,” Mr. Neufeld said. “Clearly, the mobile audience, especially heavy users, is not the same as the audience for mainstream TV.

“Determining what types of advertising work best depends upon the specific use case of the device in question.”

Any media partnership should keep in mind that mobile is still considered a second screen, even for millennial consumers, and that this second screen offers an experience with more built-in agency. While Twitter’s live political coverage does not have to directly compete with Sunday Night Football—as broadcast networks’ airings of the second debate did— the ad platform for its election night special seems to neglect millennial consumers’ outright aversion to advertising, specifically traditional advertising that they are unable to skip.

Buzzfeed’s proclivity for innovation has produced some winning campaigns, however. Earlier this year, it partnered with Sonic for a video that depicted common frustrating moments for adults in which the content accurately fit within the publisher’s brand without creating an intrusion on the consumer’s entertainment (see story).

Defying stereotypes about the incorrigibility of networks, CBS opened an in-house production company, Studio 61, through its CBS Interactive subsidiary to develop mobile and digital content exclusively for brands and marketers (see story). 

“The folks who will be tuning in to Buzzfeed and Twitter’s "Election Night Special” will most likely be a niche audience of people who are extremely tuned in to politics — largely journalists, campaign professionals, and hardcore political junkies,” said Jordan Cohen, chief marketing officer of Fluent.

“But the vast majority of Main Street USA will be watching the results come in the good old fashioned way — glued to their TV sets in their living rooms.”

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Rakin Azfar is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach him at rakin@napean.com.

 
Related content: Politics, Buzzfeed, Buzzfeed News, Twitter, Election, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton

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