YouTube presidential debate breaks live-streaming record
James R | On 29, Sep 2016
This week saw the first presidential debate take place between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – and it broke live-streaming records on YouTube.
The debate had almost 2 million live concurrent viewers and saw people rack up 3 million hours of live-streaming across the six news organisations that streamed the debate on YouTube – making it the biggest political live-stream of all time, not to mention one of the largest live-streams in YouTube’s history.
It’s a sign of YouTube’s increasing importance for younger people to keep up with the US presidential elections. In the run-up to November, people have watched more than 110 million hours of candidate and issues-related content. Creators, in turn, have uploaded more than 200,000 election videos to the site.
“We’ve been working on various election efforts the last couple of cycles,” Brandon Feldman, a YouTube News and Politics exec, told Mashable. “But this year we’ve seen a lot of the pieces come together — and the YouTube creator community is louder, more passionate and more influential than it’s ever been before.”
According to data given exclusively to the site, one in three political streamers look for content from vloggers, mostly because they admire them. Speeches and press conferences were the most popular type of posts (68 per cent), ahead of news (57 per cent), debates (53 per cent) and other types of videos.
The Ipsos Connect survey, among voters from 18 to 54, highlights the influence YouTube can have in this year’s political race, with more than a third saying they are more likely to be persuaded by political content online than TV. 57 per cent of undecided voters also said they’re most likely to pay attention to political adverts online rather than in other media.
And so YouTube has used that clout to get creators to back a #voteIRL campaign, encouraging users to register to vote. It also has election-themed sets in YouTube’s Los Angeles and New York Spaces to help creators make content themed around the election.
“I’m glad YouTube is upping their efforts,” Steve Oh, COO of The Young Turks, told YouTube. “And they have to do this, because young people aren’t watching news or cable news.”
“Often times we talk about apathy, but it’s also simply that figuring it out takes time and sometimes the information necessary to vote is confusing or difficult to access, especially since it’s different in each of the 50 states,” said Hank Green in an email interview with Mashable earlier this year. “I am very lucky to live in a democracy, but the only reason politicians listen to citizens is if they vote. So, traditionally, young people don’t get listened to because, traditionally, they vote less. We need to change that.”
And so this year has become, among other things, the most online election race in the USA’s history, with Clinton holding a Digital Content Creators Town Hall and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns for Funny or Die. Trump, meanwhile, regularly posts YouTube posts, and Obama has been interviewed by YouTubers on multiple occasions.
The vice presidential debate will stream live on YouTube on Tuesday 4th October.