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A Tale Of Two Election Day Media Internet Vs. TV News
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A Tale Of Two Election Day Media Internet Vs. TV News

The Internet played an important role in the 2008 election campaign, so it’s no surprise that on Election Day, people used multiple news sources to follow results.  By combining television and Internet samples through a process known as fusion, Nielsen provides new data showing how the two media worked together to meet the demand for election news updates.

A total of 163.6 million adults sought election coverage from either television or the Internet — or both. This shows the unduplicated or cumulative audience that used one or the other medium for at least one minute.

158.3 million watched Election Day coverage on television. Of those, 134.8 million only watched TV coverage.

28.8 million used the Internet to get Election Day coverage from major news websites. Of those, 5.2 million only used the Internet for election coverage.

23.6 million got Election Day coverage from both TV and the Internet. Of these, 48% of these accessed online Election Day coverage only while at work; 42% got their online coverage only at home; and 10% checked online coverage both at home and at work.

Demographic Breakdown

From an overall reach perspective, adults aged 50+ were more likely than younger adults to seek Election Day news from TV or Internet — 80% of these adults were reached by one or the other medium, compared to 60% for 18-34s and 76% for 35-49s.

The demographic difference between the TV audience and the online audience wasn’t “younger” versus “older” — but rather, “middle-aged” versus “older.”

Younger adults between the ages of 18-34 made up about a quarter of the audience for both television and the Internet, but from there online coverage skewed younger than television:

-Adults 18-34 were 24.8% of the TV audience and 24.4% of the online audience.

-Adults 35-49 made up 40.7% of the online audience, but only 29.5% of the TV audience.

-Adults over the age of 50 made up 46% of the TV audience and accounted for 35% of the Internet users.

In addition, there are decided differences in demographic composition, based on whether people accessed election coverage online only, on TV only, or both on TV and online:

-Internet Only Users were the youngest: 34.5% were aged 18-34, compared to 34.0% for 35-49 and 31.5% for 50+.

-TV Only Users were the oldest: 25.3% were aged 18-34, 27.3% were aged 35-49, 47.4% were 50+.

-People who accessed Election coverage on both TV and online skewed 35-49: 22.2% were aged 18-34, 42.2% were 35-49, 35.6% were 50+.

Convergence Panel Results

A new Nielsen sample tracks both Internet and television usage with a single sample, making it possible to see how people used the two media simultaneously to check Election Day results.  This “convergence panel” shows that while simultaneous use of TV and Internet for Election Day coverage was limited, TV and online news outlets drew larger than average audiences:

-Only 1% of TV viewers on Election Night were simultaneously searching news websites — three times greater than the prior Tuesday night.

-On the other hand, 25.5% of news website visitors on Election Night were also watching TV election coverage — 2.5 times greater than the normal simultaneous traffic.