Obama Inauguration to Get Massive Web Coverage

On Jan. 20, the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will be all over the Internet.

As the historic day approaches, the number of Web sites planning to stream the live ceremonies continues to grow — leading some to speculate that it may produce the most viewed event in the history of cybrspace.

In addition to most top news sites, entertainment video venues Hulu and Joost will carry the event live.

Those sites join the Web’s biggest news outlets, Yahoo News, MSNBC.com, CNN.com, as well as ABCNews.com, ABC News Now, FoxNews.com and CBSNews.com — all of which will deliver live footage of Obama’s oath of office and inaugural address. And most are pulling out all the stops to engage users, many of whom are likely to be logging on from the office during a typical Tuesday workday.

For example, Hulu — which will carry Fox’s live broadcast of the event — has begun posting a collection of historical inaugural speeches going back to William McKinley (who was president from 1897 to 1901). Users can also embed Hulu’s video player on their own sites — an option that MSNBC.com is also offering for its own live online coverage.

MSNBC.com is also planning to present a heavy dose of user-generated content produced by those traveling to attend the inauguration. Users are encouraged to submit clips and photos of the goings-on in Washington D.C., via the site’s FirstPerson platform.

CBS News and Yahoo News will also encourage user participation. For example, Yahoo’s editorial team will provide content and information as answers to user questions in real time through the day’s festivities.

Many sites are also upping the ante in terms of streaming technology. FoxNews.com will pull footage from five different cameras capturing everything from Obama’s speech to the inauguration parade. Plus, the venue will provide a secondary source of coverage and commentary via The Strategy Room, its fledgling daily live Web video network.

Besides enhanced coverage, several sites are looking to land exclusive advertisers for their coverage. ABCNews.com has locked in Audi to sponsor its live streaming, which is being presented in widescreen format. Pepsi is the exclusive sponsor of Yahoo coverage.

CNN is also hoping to entice several brands to run video and banner ads during CNN.com Live’s coverage of the event. Last week the news organization announced it had struck a deal with Facebook which will allow viewers to comment on the various inauguration events in real time on their Facebook profiles — without leaving CNN.com.