Why the 2016 RNC and DNC May Go Down in History as ‘the Livestream Conventions’

And why network news anchors aren't worried

The 2016 national political conventions stand to be the most broadcasted, most consumed, most shared conventions of all time. But that may have less to do with the candidates and more to do with the attendees in both Cleveland, home of this week's Republican National Convention, and Philadelphia, which will host the Democrats next week.

Thanks to better cell phones, better bandwidth and more media platforms, the quadrennial meet-ups may go down as "the livestream conventions." So what do the networks' multimillion-dollar, on-air personalities and billion-dollar media companies have that a smartphone user doesn't?

"I think we have to bring context, we have to bring perspective, we have to bring analysis," said ABC's George Stephanopoulos, co-anchor of Good Morning America, This Week and anchor of ABC's prime-time coverage for the conventions .

"Citizen journalists are great," added CBS News' Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson. "Think about the citizen journalism that's going on even in the stories of today: terrorism and violence in America."

"People are getting good at telling their own stories," commented NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, who will lead convention coverage for the first time for NBC News. "It's great for all of us because it enriches the texture of what we cover. At the same time, we're still happily constrained by the rules of journalism and fact-checking and attribution."

Dickerson agreed, though adding that there should be moments when journalists say "'wait, let's stop the madness of the flurry of information and figure out what's the most important thing,' and then let's advance that."

"For a lot of our primetime audience, even though it's been livestreamed all day long, this is going to be the first chance to put it all together," said Stephanopoulos, who will be burning both ends of the candle—anchoring Good Morning America and the network's 10 p.m. special as well as reporting breaking news in between.

On CBS, Scott Pelley will lead an hour of coverage each evening this week, culminating with Donald Trump's GOP nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night. 

Brian Williams, who was the lead anchor for NBC News for the 2008 and 2012 conventions, will lead MSNBC's prime-time coverage along with Rachel Maddow, but both will be based at headquarters in New York. CNN will have continuing coverage with its team of Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and many more here in Cleveland. While Fox News's Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly will lead prime-time coverage on Fox News Channel.

Lastly, the RNC has credentialed 15,000 journalists, which is three times as many GOP delegates who will be here (2,472) and alternate delegates (2,304).

Adweek will be covering the 2016 Republican and Democratic Political Conventions over the next two weeks. Check back for coverage here and on Adweek Blog Network sites, TVNewser and TVSpy.

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