The Day Old Media Died

Today, President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of these United States. While his election is a bit of history in of itself, it’s not tech related, so that’s not what I want to talk about – what I want to talk about is how I (and apparently 13.9 million others) experienced this Inauguration Ceremony.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the only TV I have in my house is a 21″ tube tv, which is parked in my office with a pair of foil-covered rabbit-ears on it. I don’t ‘watch’ TV, though, I stream it. To the ‘old media’ outlets on TV, such as CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc., I’m a lost viewer. However, today one of them reclaimed me, and did so well. It was CNN. For the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, CNN partnered with Facebook to stream the ceremony over the internet. You can see a screengrab below:

CNN + Facebook

You see, there on the left, that’s the video window. It’s sort of like your TV, in that it shows video content, most of which was live. There’s a volume control, and I can make it take up my whole monitor, if I choose. However, the real key is what’s on the right hand side there – that’s my Facebook. Yeah, CNN came to me, where I’ve gathered with my friends, and brought us the news. Freakin brilliant.

Throughout the whole ceremony, I was able to watch the video, live, and see what my friends on Facebook had to say about it. It was like being in the same room with all of my Facebook friends. I was able to comment on things they said, and they could do the same to me. This chat room of sorts also automatically updated, just like a real conversation would have done. It did not require me to do anything but sit and watch, and participate where I felt led to.

There’s also an option for me to branch out from just my friends, and see what *everyone* on Facebook was saying. I clicked over there a few times, but it was far too busy, and I didn’t really know anyone in there, so I went back to my friends. This is how I see the future of TV, honestly. I think there are going to be a handful of networks and content owners who realize this – they’re the ones who are already offering their content online, still ad-supported, for viewing.

The major key, in my opinion, was the way that CNN came to me and my friends with Facebook – it was seamless for the user, minus a small plugin I had to install, only stuttered a few times through the 2 hour+ ceremony (including the ‘pregame’ stuff), and allowed me to chat with people that I know easily. It was also important to note that CNN came to us – they didn’t make me setup a new account, or ask us to re-find each other on a new service.

To put this in perspective, CNN and Facebook created basically an online Super Bowl party, in my own livingroom. Imagine if every TV show had this setup, where you could ‘meet’ your friends to chat about the show while you’re watching – with the option to go fullscreen and just enjoy the content. Imagine what it would mean for the content owners and advertisers, actively engaged users who would normally have pirated the show, or DVR’d it to skip the ads. For users, it’s a whole new, social way to enjoy video content, when you want, with anyone you want.

I can tell you something now – if I could watch TV with Facebook (or any other threaded conversation place, which leaves Twitter out but leaves Jaiku in), I would do it in a heartbeat. Today, old media died. New media, and the old media smart enough to embrace it, experienced a great deal of growth. How did you watch the Inauguration?

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