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TV News Moves Beyond TV Set To Cover Obama’s State of The Union

Tonight’s coverage of President Obama’s State of the Union address may serve to remind Americans anew they no longer need a TV set to experience this annual political event.

Scott Pelley will hold forth on CBS at 9 p.m., no surprise, but will also appear an hour earlier on CBSN, the CBS News streaming-video effort, where he and a larger CBS News team will, starting at 8 p.m., preview the TV coverage – which will also be streamed live. Over at MSNBC, Krystal Ball, Dorian Warren and Josh Barro will offer analysis of the event as it happens – but on the cable-news outlet’s new Shift streaming-video hub, all as Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews host more traditional coverage on MSNBC.

CBS and MSNBC aren’t the only outlets offering coverage of the speech in multi-platform fashion, but they are putting two nascent distribution methods into the minute-by-minute fray of the current news cycle. CBSN is only a few months old, having launched in November, while Shift debuted in December. To be sure, digital coverage of big events has become de rigueur as more consumers use mobile devices and broadband connections to gain access to news and information about the world. But  the inclusion of the new hubs in both networks’ plans illustrates the growing dependence traditional media companies have on these new means of outreach.

In putting together tonight’s coverage, all the major news outlets are planning both the usual and the experimental: A TV broadcast and digital add-ons. But in many cases, a viewer could get the main event, the preliminaries and the wrap-up solely by relying on digital media.

NBC News’ State of the Union coverage, led by Brian Williams, will be streamed live at NBCNews.com. At ABC News, George Stephanopoulos will anchor the network’s State of the Union coverage. Yet at ABCNews.com, “Nightline” anchor Byron Pitts will offer a “pre-show” at 8:45 p.m., and correspondents Martha Raddatz and Jonathan Karl will host a fifteen-minute post-show round table after a Republican response to the speech has aired. The digital site will also transmit the speeches a viewer might have used TV to watch in years past.

Bret Baier will anchor Fox News Channel’s TV coverage of the State of the Union starting at 8:55 p.m., while Megyn Kelly will host “The Kelly File” afterwards at 11 p.m.  FoxNews.com will feature a live webcast from its New York headquarters beginning at 8:30 p.m. featuring multiple streams. Co-hosts from the network’s “The Five” will live tweet.

CNN said CNN.com and the CNN mobile app will concurrently host enterprise analysis and live coverage of the evening, including a social stream on CNNPolitics.com with commentary and interactive elements, all while Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper host the cable network’s more traditional aspects of coverage.

One non-traditional news outlet is playing up elements one might expect from a less experimental player. Yahoo News will live-stream the State of the Union address , anchored by Katie Couric, the former “Today” host and “CBS Evening News” anchor.

And one player is pulling back on the new frontier. In 2014, cable-network Fusion broadcast a State of the Union analysis led by a host of anthropomorphic creatures, including two bickering crabs and  a talking hot dog. The oddball commentators hailed from the network’s satirical program, “No, You Shut Up,” which answers the unasked question of what Bill Maher’s HBO program “Real Time”might look like if The Jim Henson Company took it over. In 2015, Fusion, jointly owned by ABC News and Univision, said it would instead rely on Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez to anchor coverage, which will be live-streamed via Fusion.com and YouTube. One creature, a conservative red squirrel named Star Schlessinger, will take part in the proceedings, according to a network spokesman.

[Updated, 12:02 PM PT]

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