White House Makes Second Screen Noise with State of the Union

January 22, 2015 · Posted in Uncategorized 

By Chris Tribbey

YouTube, Twitter, Instagram … name the social media outlet, and the White House and President Obama were all over it Tuesday night during the State of the Union address. And that was just the tip of a larger second screen push for the hour-long address.

Prior to the speech, the White House announced a second screen version of the speech at WH.gov/SOTU, which offered an enhanced live stream featuring graphics augmenting the speech; a series of expanded, standalone nuggets into the administration’s policy, with both interactive and personalized components; state-by-state and demographic data points in real-time; a Q&A section; and social media links.

“We’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to use digital channels to better engage with the public and give people a way to participate and interact with President Obama,” read the White House’s official blog. “Since 2011, a big part of that has been the ‘enhanced’ version of the President’s State of the Union address, adding charts and graphics to give a deeper look at why policies are pursued, and what they mean for the American people. The format has improved over the years, including last year’s page which incorporated a real-time ‘tweet server’ that enabled users to share content in real time.”

The enhanced experience was built with desktops, tablets and other mobile devices in mind, serving “as a viable second-screen view for users who want to close the live stream and use the page while simultaneously watching on TV.” Offering real-time captioning in both English and Spanish, the second screen option were built using websocket technology, which use a back-end connection to users’ browsers to push content as its published.

And while only 31.7 million people tuned in to watch the address — the lowest turnout since President Clinton’s final address in 2000 — there were more than 1.2 million views of the enhanced State of the Union live stream, and a U.S. audience on Twitter of nearly 10 million people saw at least one of the 2.6 million Tweets sent in the U.S. about the State of The Union 2015, according to Nielsen Social.

Peak concurrent traffic to the enhanced second screen experience was roughly 50% higher than the 2014 address, and people stayed on the stream for 45% longer, according to the White House. More than 75,000 people stayed online to watch a post-speech interview with Huffington Post Politics. At the peak of engagement, more than 50% of users were viewing WhiteHouse.gov via a mobile device or tablet. The White House also released real-time clips from the speech, pulling in nearly 1.5 million views on Facebook during the address.

It’s not the first time the White House has gone digital first with announcements, with the President using digital platforms to announce a plan for free community college (filmed from Air Force One), improving access to broadband Internet (using an iPad) and creating fairer paid leave policies (announced via LinkedIn).

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