ITV, the largest commercial television broadcaster in the UK, will be broadcasting tomorrow’s first election debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg live online, and will be using social networking tools to reach out to the public. The event will begin streaming live on ITV’s website at 8:30 GMT, and during and after the debate users can use Facebook, Twitter, and live chats to discuss the event.
On the ITV elections site, users will be able to engage in a live chat, submitting their questions and comments about the candidate’s statements, and hear back from fellow citizens as well as ITV news correspondents. In addition to the real-time audience reactions that will register as a ticker along the bottom of the broadcast screen dubbed “The Worm” – a technique employed by broadcasters in the past – ITV has some innovative uses of Facebook and Twitter planned in order to engage the audience.
Users can log in to Facebook Connect while watching the debate at ITV.com, and post their reactions to the debate on their friend’s walls to draw them in to the discussion. Facebook users can also see what others on Facebook are saying about the debates live on ITV’s website.
Twitter will be used as a sort of insta-poll covering the debate. ITV has chosen 5,000 Twitter users to follow, and record their thoughts on the leaders’ debating skills. This data will be compiled into a “sentiment scale” ranging from one to five, measuring how the Twitter-sphere is reacting to each leader.
And finally, ITV will be making the debates available on YouTube to UK and international viewers who might’ve missed the live event.