In the heat of the Democratic primary, the five major Sunday morning talk shows have recently taken on greater prominence. For political junkies like me, even after a week's worth of endless campaign coverage, it is great sport to watch the candidates and their surrogates put the best face on the week's events, while eagerly trying to tee up issues for the coming week's news cycle.
The Sunday shows are also perfect fodder for broadband video consumption. On-air they are neatly segmented by guests and topics, their archives offer a vivid research opportunity for both editorial and user-driven curation, and the audiences that tune in are upscale and appealing to advertisers.
With all this going for them, I decided to investigate the online presence of the five Sunday morning shows, ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," CBS's "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer," FOX's "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace," NBC's "Meet the Press with Tim Russert" and CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
Though all of the sites had their strengths, as a group I found them to be surprisingly average initiatives, especially in comparison to the superb efforts these same networks have mounted for their online entertainment programming. (Note that all I found for "Late Edition" was a brochure page)
"FTN" would have to rank at the top of my list, primarily because it segments the show by its guests and topics and displays them in the user-friendliest manner. This allows the user to quickly zero in on desired segments. "This Week" and "MTP" do some of this as well, though I found their presentation not as straightforward. What's missing from all are related clips across episodes curated in a meaningful way. Presentation is very episode-centric.
While all the sites rely heavily on pre-roll ads, "FTN" gets credit for using some frequency capping. "This Week," seems to ignore the best practices that ABC.com follows in presenting its shows with limited interruptions. Not only does it not frequency cap, it also ran the same 2 ads - one for Intel and one for Verizon Wireless - over and over. Needless to say this became tiresome after clicking to watch several segments.
Meanwhile, navigation and available content on these sites are all over the board. "MTP" offers a link to watch the whole program with limited interruptions, while "FNS" offers a text transcript of the most recent program, but not a video of the whole program. "This Week's" main text navigation has links to pure text stories, text stories with embedded video clips, and video clips alone, but no way to sort the list by media type. Search on each site also yields highly diverse results - some video, some not. One missed opportunity is that none offer any user editing features. Putting together your own highlights reel to be embedded on a blog or social networking site would likely be great fun for many hard-core viewers.
The Sunday talk shows offer dynamite content, highly leverageable for broadband consumption. Hopefully as the political season rolls on we'll see the networks recognize this and continue to invest in new features and improved usability.
What do you think? Post a comment and let us all know!