Electoral Overdrive

For those of us who get sucked in by elections and their coverage, election night itself is akin to the Superbowl without broadcast exclusivity. Instead of a private party hosted by one network with security and a high ticket price for advertisers, the election provides a full-blown Mardi Gras experience with reporters, analysts, pundits, candidates, plumbers, friends, relatives, neighbors and their dogs (pit bulls being the breed of choice this year) all getting in on the act across any and all media outlets they can.

It is a veritable orgy of electile dysfunction, with projections, counter-projections, blue states, red states, swing states, Battleground States, early calls, close calls, recounts and -- on a bad day -- hanging chads! All of this, of course, is delivered to us by animated, emotional and frequently partisan commentators doing the rounds of the broadcast outlets to share the benefit of their wisdom in the company of the host presenters for whom the election is prom night relived. It just doesn't get any better for these guys and girls!

For those of us seeking to follow events, we mostly stick to one major network, switch channels some to avoid ads and catch the likes of Jon Stewart and other faves -- or maybe we zone out to other programs in the earlier parts of the evening. This year, of course, will be different in that Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have emerged since the last election and have established their place in the hearts and minds of a proportion of those who have been following the campaigns, the debates and the rest.

Beyond that though, I was delighted to see that Direct TV will this year be offering up the Election Mix Channel so that viewers will see live feeds from eight channels covering the election in mosaic format. They can select the audio feed of their choice while viewing the entire mosaic and then use their remote to select and expand a particular channel to full-screen at any time, before going back to the mosaic when they choose. Direct has used this kind of approach for sports coverage before, and it's been seen elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas. For an election however, it stands to add a whole other dimension for viewers. Not just in the interactivity, which allows for simultaneous (visual) exposure to multiple channels, but also for the potential it presents for seeing how the event is covered. Just think of how many fun games you can play, like:

  • Spot the Pundit: How many times does the same pundit turn up on different channels saying the same thing (this could be a good drinking game if that's your fancy - take two drinks if they contradict themselves)?

  • Coolest / Cheesiest Graphics: There'll be no end of maps, charts and animations showing projections and actual results as the night wears on -- select your very own winners and losers!

  • Bias Bingo: With eight channels available in front of you, all reporting on the same events, you'll be amazed just how different that reporting can be! Eyes down for a full house!

    Of course if you're one of those people like me, who take great pleasure in following this stuff by talking with your Friends on Facebook during the coverage, then simultaneous access to eight channels and a social network may just be a bit too much. It's one thing to do this when watching a debate and everyone is tuned to the same content even if on a different channel, but trying to keep track of a group of Friends as they comment on their journey through that many channels could defeat even the most adept of multitaskers!

    Tags: tv
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