Current TV knows that it is an underdog when it comes to convention coverage. ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, PBS and C-SPAN will all be going big in Tampa and Charlotte, so why bother following the pack?
Instead, Current will produce its coverage from New York, where Al Gore and a number of Current TV hosts will anchor for the network.
“If we can’t be down on the floor swimming in it, which is big, huge and expensive, we can do it just fine from here,” Current TV president David Bohrman told me in Current’s New York studio. “Layer in the fact that coverage is being led by Al Gore; I can’t necessarily have him be on the floor at a democratic convention hall, he is a former nominee of the party after all, and then if you look forward to Tampa, I certainly can’t have him on the floor at the Republican convention.”
Instead, Current is betting that with much of the TV coverage going to look the same (with the same pool cameras and the same people giving the same speeches), there is a chance to do something different.
So, Current will be dedicating half of the real estate on its screen to a live stream of tweets (see photo above), featuring various groups, including “Team Obama,” “Team Romney,” “Tea Party Voters” and even “Mainstream Media,” which includes tweets from competitors on cable news.
“We think we can bring in real time tweets that are pertinent, and also provide some depth and catch up with things that we didn’t put on the air when they were on,” Bohrman says. “When this flood is going, there is a really interesting volume of information.”
Bohrman says the trick was figuring out the format, from the colors and fonts used, to the speed at which tweets flow.
Current will have David Shuster on the ground in both Tampa and Charlotte, as well as members of The Young Turks, but for now, it is betting that New York is the place to be.
“Cable TV has really taken over the main convention coverage. If you look at Reuters, Bloomberg, C-SPAN, CNN, Fox, you are going to see pretty much the same program,” Bohrman says.