Social Networks Play Leading Role in Live News Coverage

Live Streams Deliver ‘Unfiltered and Unbiased’ View

For the past week the US has been in a state of unrest as tensions grow following the shooting deaths of two African American men by police officers in Minnesota and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sparking widespread outrage throughout the country, and social video networks are playing a leading role in distributing live coverage of events as they unfold.

Last Tuesday, bystanders captured the shooting death of Alton Sterling by police in Baton Rouge on video that was uploaded onto Facebook. The very next day Philando Castile was shot and killed by police in Minnesota during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend was in the vehicle when the shooting occurred and she used the Facebook Live mobile feature to immediately begin broadcasting the aftermath of the shooting, capturing truly brutal and harrowing images that viewers won’t see on their local news program. And in just the few days following the incidents, the videos had each been viewed over five million times; at this point the true number of video views is much higher.

But, rather than flocking to their TV screens when major news surfaces more and more people are flocking to social media for event coverage and it is impacting everything about the typical news cycle right down to the news source. Platforms such as Facebook and its live offering and Twitter and its live streaming platform Periscope are giving viewers more news coverage than a nightly cable newscast can and that content is being delivered as fast possible, unrestrained by linear TV schedules.

The recent shift in social video networks as the go-to platform for both broadcasting and viewing news is increasing the value of said social media networks. Users are able to access information from valid news sources and Facebook media partners like CNN and or the New York Times as well as from regular users. The Internet TV Reporter is based in Baton Rouge, so being at the center of recent national news with protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement we have seen firsthand our own friends take to Facebook Live to broadcast the protests in real time.

During protests this past Saturday a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, DeRay McKesson took to Periscope to broadcast the protest during which time he was arrested by Baton Rouge City police. By the next morning the video had been seen over 500,000 times.

The bystanders’ point of view has become extremely important for people and social live streaming networks are giving that perspective to viewers. Affiliated news broadcasts are influenced by reporters and producers leaving TV news susceptible to bias. A survey from Pew Research Center found that the majority of consumers believe news outlets are biased in their coverage of political and social issues. That is why streams of live news from people on the ground at the scene of the crime, protest, or social event are so valuable to viewers.

Although TV screens are still the most commonly accessed news source, used by 57% of Americans, there is a noticeable shift in preferred news platforms depending on age. When it comes to news access 50% of Americans between 18 and 34 first go online to read or watch news coverage while only 27% of the same demographic first turn on their TV screens according to Pew. Over time, more people will turn to an online platform such as Facebook or Twitter to check the news than to a local TV newscast.

Twitter Deals Slate It for More Live Streaming Coverage

With the upcoming US presidential election just a few months away the Internet has played a bigger role in the political campaign trails this year than any other as social media networks have become social video and live streaming networks allowing for people to share campaign coverage online with more people than ever before. Recognizing this shift in behavior, TV news outlets are turning to social video networks to reach eyeballs. CBS News has teamed up with Twitter to live stream its digital coverage over Twitter of the upcoming Republican- and Democratic National Conventions to be held on July 18 through 21 in Cleveland and July 25 through 28 in Philadelphia, respectively. The deal is particularly interesting because CBS News already runs a live streaming news site,, that targets Millennial viewers. The deal with Twitter is evidence of just how important social video platforms have become in aggregating audiences.

“Twitter is the fastest way to find out what’s happening in politics and to have a discussion about it,” said Twitter CFO Anthony Noto. “By bringing the live discussion of the Republican and Democratic national conventions together with CBSN’s live video stream of the proceedings, we believe we’re giving people around the world the best way to experience democracy in action.”

Those with or without a Twitter account will be able to watch live streaming of the conventions, but Twitter live streams will appear alongside tweets about the convention. And most importantly, Twitter live streams will feature more coverage than what is broadcast by the traditional TV networks. CBS News president, David Rhodes said that the live streaming coverage on Twitter will test how it can attract more viewers to the network.

“CBSN is already streaming, so it’s not like we need this platform to stream – we do that ourselves. What this does do is put the CBSN stream in front of a more occasional audience, the kind of audience you’d expect to look for big news,” said Rhodes.

Twitter’s recent deal with Bloomberg signals that the company is embracing its place as a news platform. Twitter recently changed its iOS app store category from social networking to news, a move that was suggested to bring the app more downloads as it sat much higher on the news app rankings than it did under the social networking category. Now Twitter is deviating from live sports content and embracing news in its partnership with Bloomberg to stream three financial news programs: “Bloomberg West”, “What’d You Miss” and “With All Due Respect” as well as the network’s daily stock market coverage.

And Europe’s CNBC International is also using live streaming to test the waters with new audiences. After seeing a surge in viewership following the Brexit vote, the network is doing a trial of its program “Street Signs” on Facebook Live. The network is moving to add more digital coverage to its brand and the Facebook Live trial is its way of telling if its content can attract regular viewers on a daily basis to a show on a digital platform. So rather than limiting online live streaming to breaking news, CNBC International is testing the digital daily news program model on Facebook viewers…

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