With the campaign season rapidly coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about how drastically my online and offline behavior has changed in the past few months. I am not alone in saying that I’ve been pretty consumed with election coverage since the heat of the primaries. Over the past year traffic to political sites and television viewership of partisan programming have jumped to historic levels. Most surprising, though, is that I’ve found my use of online video has skyrocketed from virtually none pre-election to daily viewing over the past month. I’ve been devoted to catching the one-liners, the outrageous gaffes and contradictions, and, of course, the popular parodies produced by SNL, the Daily Show, and other late-night comedy shows. Again, I am not alone. Total streams have increased dramatically since November 2007 to YouTube (115%), CNN (143%), and hulu (1928%–thank you Tina Fey and Sarah Palin). Overall, streams in the Online Video Market have grown by 50%.
During the first Gulf War, 24-hour cable news (specifically CNN) saw huge ratings increases and established the viability of cable news, which is now a staple of television for many Americans. Fifteen years later, we couldn’t imagine not being able to find news on television at any time of day. Might we look back at the 2008 presidential election as a catalyst for streaming video similar to what the Gulf War was for round the clock cable news? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet against it.