CNN, looking to attract a younger demographic to its Web properties and linear network, is teaming up with Facebook to stream the inauguration of Barack Obama with interactive features powered by the social networking site.
CNN developed a special version of its CNN.com Live video player that will allow users to comment via their Facebook “status” on what is happening in real time. Status updates published from the CNN.com Live player will be syndicated to friend’s news feeds, and the player will also show other Facebook user’s status updates on the inauguration.
“On the night of the election we were all in New York at the election center, watching the results come in and reporting on them,” KC Estenson, senior VP and GM of CNN.com told B&C. “A lot of us went home that night, logged onto our computers, and saw a flood of status updates [on Facebook]. When we came in the next day we said, ‘what if we could do that in real time? What if we could do that against the event itself, make the inauguration a social event.’”
Unlike election night, where most of the news was made in the evening, the inauguration will take place during the workday, when most people will be at their desks. Estenson says that as a result, the network is expecting CNN.com and its live video stream to draw a record number of viewers.
By adding the social networking features of Facebook, CNN.com is hoping to tap into a demographic that it feels it doesn’t adequately reach. Estenson says that CNN.com currently skews toward the 35+ demographic.
“The tie into Facebook gives us entry into a younger demo and a wider base,” he says, adding that the interest in Barack Obama with younger people made the inauguration a logical starting point for the two companies.
For CNN, the inauguration partnership with Facebook is being viewed as a one-time deal, though Estenson wouldn’t rule out future collaborations.
“It is my hope that we can have an enduring relationship, but for now it is just for this event,” he says. “In no way is it a formal endorsement that we will only work with Facebook.”
CNN has partnered with Facebook before on fan pages and the CNN forum.
. Probably the most prominent partnership between a news organization and Facebook was last year’s “US Politics” application with ABC News.
. The result of that partnership, an ABC News branded US Politics widget, didn’t make it through the actual election in November.