Despite the fact that the first Presidential debate was available to be streamed live, for free, on YouTube (and other outlets), only a small fraction of American chose to watch the contest live on their computer or mobile device.
Out of those surveyed in a recent Pew Research poll, 56% said that they watched the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney live. Out of those live viewers, only 3% watched it via the internet exclusively – but 11% of those surveyed said that they spread their viewing across television and online at the same time, making them the coveted “dual-screener” group that online sites and social media outlets like to tout.
The point is, television still rules. 85% said that they watched the debates live on their TVs exclusively.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers change when you look at different age groups. Young people were much more likely to use the internet to watch the debate. Among respondents aged 18-39, 10% streamed the debate online exclusively, and 22% identified as dual-screeners. On the flip side, those aged 65 and older watched that debate on television at a rate of 98%.
Of course, watching the debate isn’t the only way to interact. Posting about it on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is also a big part of any national community event like a Presidential debate. Here’s what Pew has to say about that:
“Only about a third of those who followed the debate in real time online – representing 5% of the overall debate audience– say they shared their own reactions to the debate online. This includes 8% of live debate watchers younger than 40 and 5% of those 40-to-65. No real-time debate watchers 65 and older reported sharing their reactions online while the debate was going.”
When it comes to getting news about the debates (not watching them live), television still ruled (70% of the respondents). Online news grabbed 29% of people’s attention and social media sites attracted 22% of them. Over half of those surveyed under 40 got at least some debate news from and online/social media source.
Despite this, YouTube says that the live stream of the first Presidential debate was one of their biggest live-streamed events ever. Do you go online for you live political events, or do you stick to the tube?