For four hours last night, ABC provided a continuous broadcast of Republican and Democratic debates live from New Hampshire. Late last year we saw the YouTube/CNN debates that enabled YouTube users to present questions directly to the presidential candidates. While filtered, it was the first time that web technology was so tightly integrated with the debates. Whether or not you think YouTube was integrated into the debates effectively it illustrated the ubiquity of the YouTube brand.
Last night, it was not just ABC covering the New Hampshire debates. It was instead ABC and Facebook presented boldly on the stage and on the televised event’s pre-roll. It spoke to the ubiquity of Facebook. A powerful statement. Overall for Facebook, the event appeared to be little more than a statement and a highly active application on their site. At the end of the debates, the program cut to an ABC staff member who gave a summary of how the debates were shaping out on Facebook.
She proceeded to cherry pick random statements that users has submitted and stated that Facebook users wanted to hear more about the economy from each of the candidates. That was it! They cut back to the normal broadcast at which point the announcer paraphrased the ABC staff member about Facebook users wanting to hear more about the economy and continued with the show.
It appeared as though the ABC staff member was experiencing information overload in trying to summarize what the Facebook users were saying. Rightfully so. As Anne Broache points out, there were over 35,000 comments posted by Facebook users. A staggering number that illustrates how the ABC staff had no chance of effectively filtering the content in such a short amount of time.
This was the first time though and when the partnership was first announced, Facebook painted the partnership as more of an experiment then anything else. A good experiment it was. Maybe next time there will be a higher level of integration between Facebook and the debate. For now I think this was a great first step and it was powerful to see Facebook’s name branded on the debates. Do you think this was a good level of integration?