Political Streaming Data: What 6.9 Million Viewers Tell Us About American Politics

In the year since one of the most divisive elections in US history, more than 6.9 million Americans got their news straight from the source by tuning into live press conferences, hearings, and briefings on Livestream.

When the information landscape is crowded with niche news sources, “fake news,” and Russian propaganda, this unfiltered access to primary political content is helping to bridge divides while American politics are at their most contentious. Livestream wanted to look at our own political streaming data to see what we could learn about our audience and their political views.

Image courtesy of Pew Research Center

Where Livestream Fits in Political Streaming Data + News

With an estimated 22.2m Americans slated to cancel their TV service in 2017, according to eMarketer, cordcutting is increasingly becoming a national pastime with Americans are increasingly getting their political news and information online. The Pew Research Center reports that as of August 2017, 43% of Americans often get news from online sources – neck-and-neck with the 50% who often get news on television. This gap between traditional broadcast TV news and digital has doubled in size since 2016. The same report notes that 85% of US adults get their news on mobile devices, and this surge is driven by older Americans: “Roughly two-thirds (67%) of those ages 65 and older now get news on a mobile device, a 24%-point jump from 2016 and about three times the share in 2013.”

Analyst Peter Moore, from digital survey company YouGov, found in 2016 that: 27% of America is “actively trying to avoid the news.” YouGov also reports that distrust in traditional media is on the rise, finding in a 2017 study that “Most Americans (70%) agree that news organizations report stories in a light that’s partial to who owns them.”

As Livestream is a platform – not a media company in the traditional sense – there is no political viewpoint offered. This level playing field eliminates the potential for slanting coverage through cherry-picking contributors or seconds of coverage presented without context. This neutrality and whole presentation of political streams offer viewers an unobscured look at notable political moments.

What Livestream Audiences Are Saying About Politics

We set out to study how our audiences discuss political streams and share their opinions. In 2016, coverage of the US presidential election and associated events – such as debates, rallies, press conferences – ranked as some of the most popular content on Livestream. A contributing factor to the popularity of these streams in Livestream’s unique live chat feature. Unlike the myriad internet comment sections found on traditional broadcast news sites, our audience can comment, chat, and debate in real time.

A year out from election day 2016, we analyzed the sentiment of the 5,355 comments on 241 politically-focused streams from November 2016 to November 2017, as seen by 6,959,622 viewers. We also looked at how this sentiment and viewership changed over time.

First we digitally analyzed the comments to rank the most-used words and visualized our results below – the more often a word was used, the larger it appears.

Then we looked at negative or positive comments over time. Computational tools were used to determine the emotional tone behind words, and to gain an understanding of the attitudes, opinions, and emotions of the people commenting. Illustrated in the graphic below, positive and negative comments overall spiked around the election, spiked massively around the inauguration, and then spiked negatively in June 2017 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey testified about Russian involvement in the election alongside other intelligence officials.

Political Streams + Audience

What political streams received the most viewership? We can only track what was streamed on our platform but the most viewed streams of President Trump’s first year in office include Secretary Clinton’s post-election address, the Inauguration, and former FBI Director Comey’s testimony in June.

Header image courtesy of Steve Harvey

Using an eCDN for Corporate Communications

Imagine delivering a flawless, broadcast-quality live video message from your executive team, or a live training event, to all of your employees, on any device, wherever they are, without clogging your network bandwidth. Can your corporate network support live events for large audiences without creating a bandwidth bottleneck or crashing? This is something organizations must find solutions for when planning internal live broadcasts to ensure high-quality streaming for no-fail events.

Livestream’s new Peer-to-Peer Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) solves for these issues by supporting an HD-quality seamless live viewing experience while minimizing the stress on your corporate network, reducing bandwidth consumption and cost, and maintaining privacy and security regulations.

Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications empowers IT and communications teams to deliver a flawless streaming video event, without risking network health or compromising critical business functions.

What is eCDN?

An eCDN is an enterprise content delivery network, which is one way for companies to distribute content within their corporate network, creating a safety net for their internal bandwidth pipe.

A peer-to-peer eCDN helps to avoid network bottlenecks that occur when a large number of concurrent viewers in one office are watching the same content, such as a live broadcast. Instead of individual employee devices all pinging a single server to access a stream, a P2P eCDN reduces the amount of bandwidth needed coming from the external server. Instead, Livestream’s eCDN uses the bandwidth inside the company, redistributing the requests to devices within the LAN, improving stream quality and reducing the bandwidth load on a company’s internal network.

How Video Is Driving Corporate Communications Trends

Video is the fastest and easiest way to learn and retain information. Streaming your internal and all hands meetings has become de rigueur at large companies, but these in-demand, data-heavy streams can have massive network implications.

Today video is being used in organizations for a variety of purposes:
• Employee training and product demos
• All hands or town halls
• Internal HR events and panels

Streaming company-wide meetings is an effective way to keep employees engaged. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, engaged employees report 31% higher productivity and 37% higher sales. Conversely, the Dale Carnegie Institute reports that businesses with disengaged employees lose $11b annually.

This engagement data is driving demand for access to video in the workplace: according to Cisco, global business IP traffic is set to grow 21% from 2015 to 2021, which will require updated infrastructure to handle the load.

To avoid additional expenses or potential network failures, many corporations are considering eCDNs to meet these new challenges.

Traditional content delivery vs. Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications

In a traditional content delivery setup, viewers connect to a server to obtain the streaming video they have requested. This server can either be inside the company or external – an example would be video content cached and delivered from a Cloud provider. Both of these setups have their limitations.

If everyone in the company tries to connect to a single server at the headquarters, the connections will quickly become saturated and the server will likely crash as it was not meant to handle thousands of simultaneous requests for data-heavy video.

If the server is in the cloud, companies often have significant limitations when it comes to connecting to the internet. They generally have a fixed capacity when it comes to external bandwidth, and networks are often not dimensioned for a massive amount of data requests from outside their network. Firewalls can further delay external calls, creating huge bottlenecks.

This makes streaming live video within the enterprise network very difficult. There are several means of mitigating this problem, and these solutions are collectively known as “eCDN.”

Solution 1: Install caching servers within the company network at each site.

Installing caching servers allows you to place a copy of the video close to your viewers to avoid the congestion of large numbers of requests to a single server. The challenge is this solution requires both significant CAPEX (cash) and OPEX (operating expenses). Servers are expensive, and installing and maintaining them requires significant expertise and dedicated personnel. In addition to regular maintenance, you’ll also need a dedicated IT team at each site to maintain servers to guarantee no-fail live streams.

Solution 2: Use an internal multicasting tool.

A multicasting tool broadcasts content en masse to every computer on the network. This requires specific equipment that supports multicast, and may also necessitate changing workstation software to be able to support multicast streams. This is not the “typical” streaming setup so it can require additional configuration in addition to this CAPEX.

Solution 3: Legacy P2P solutions.

Peer-to-peer within company networks has existed for many years. The principle of P2P is to use the abundant bandwidth within the enterprise network. However, the solutions on the market have had several major drawbacks: at the very least they have required users to install a plugin in their browsers or an app. Some providers even require companies to change their entire video stack and use a special, non-standard streaming protocol.

Solution 4: Livestream’s peer-to-peer based eCDN

Our eCDN distributes the stream with peer-to-peer networking, harnessing idle internal network bandwidth to more effectively distribute the stream. With Livestream, employees connect to the stream as they would in a typical video streaming setup. However, instead of getting the entire video directly from the server, their video player will also ask for segments of content from nearby co-workers viewing devices. This more efficiently distributes bandwidth requirements within your network, eliminating the risk of bottlenecks to the server, slow connections, and poor video quality.

Benefits of Livestream’s eCDN for Corporate Communications

Livestream’s peer-to-peer eCDN shares video across your intranet, utilizing a fraction of the bandwidth necessary from external servers. This allows you to stream high-quality video without interruption, without impacting your bandwidth or internal network.

Lower network costs
With our cloud-based eCDN, you’re not paying for higher capacity networks or any additional hardware.
Ease of use for employees
Using our eCDN does not require viewers to download additional plugins or software. They can still view your streaming video anywhere you would normally display that content. Additionally, since our eCDN is cloud-based, there is no installation cost or time spent.
Better quality streaming at scale
Viewers across the corporate network will experience better video quality and less buffering from using an eCDN.
7-day US-based support
Livestream Enterprise support experts are just a phone call away, any day of the week.

How eCDN works with your existing Livestream account

Many eCDNs work with desktop plug-ins or costly additional hardware or software. Unlike other peer-based eCDN solutions, Livestream requires no installation on workstations and no changes to your video workflow configuration. We use standard HTTP streaming formats and offer plug-and-play integrations for desktop.

Our technology is based on WebRTC, meaning connections are made directly through the browser and there is no workstation software to install, and no browser extensions or plugins for users to manage.

Livestream’s eCDN can be activated one time by your account manager and then can be toggled on and off within your Livestream dashboard to use as you see fit. There is no work or downloads required by the end user, and no additional hardware to purchase.

How do we set up your eCDN?
• First, we test the webRTC connections inside your network.
• Your account manager enables eCDN on your Livestream account and tests different devices on the same network. If you have multiple sites, we will test each site.
• Finally, Livestream will organize a global test with the company users and a test live video. After this, your eCDN is ready to stream.

Want to learn more? Existing Livestream customers can contact their Account Manager, or visit this page and complete a Custom request form