ABC News Serves Up 28 Million Facebook Live Video Streams During Political Conventions (EXCLUSIVE)

Network's news division delivered total of 74-plus hours on social service, but it carried no ads

GOP Republican Convention Day 4
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

ABC News is touting huge reach beyond the TV from its deal with Facebook, delivering more than 28 million views of its live video coverage on the social service from the Republican and Democratic conventions over the past two weeks.

The network’s news division, which has more than 8.7 million followers on Facebook, live-streamed a total of more than 74 hours from the conventions. That included 35 hours from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 18-21, and 39-plus hours from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week. The total number of views includes on-demand replays of ABC News’ convention Facebook Live streams as of 9 a.m. ET Friday, but excludes non-live VOD clips that were also posted to the site.

However, ABC News’ use of Facebook Live falls in the category of an experiment in the world’s biggest social petri dish, rather than a moneymaker: The video didn’t include any advertising. Facebook has said it expects to introduce monetization capabilities for Facebook Live including ad support at some point hence.

Still, the news group positioned the deal as helping inform its overall coverage and expanding its brand across Facebook, which now counts 1.7 billion monthly users worldwide. “Facebook is where much of the conversation around the election is happening, so by injecting our differentiated programming onto the platform, and incorporating our audience’s voice into our coverage, we created a much more engaging two-way conversation,” said Dan Linden, ABC News’ global head of social media.

As for how ABC News’ audience size on Facebook Live compared with TV, the comparison is not apples-to-apples. An ABC News rep said it does not track unique viewers on Facebook; it’s logical to assume users watched multiple streams of ABC News’ video on the service. On linear TV, ABC News’ coverage of the Republican National Convention reached 17.1 million adults 25-54 (live plus same-day) over the four days, according to Nielsen, while cumulative ratings for its DNC broadcasts are not yet available.

For what it’s worth, data indicates that ABC News’ Facebook fans were more tuned in to the DNC. For the Democratic confab, ABC News notched more than 16.6 million video views across 44 Facebook Live streams, while for the Republican National Convention it tallied more than 11.6 million views for 52 individual Facebook Live streams.

Facebook rival Twitter, meanwhile, served a live stream of CBS News’ CBSN broadband-video network for both conventions.

YouTube, which was the official live-streaming partner for the RNC and DNC, said the conventions were viewed live on on the platform about 9.1 million times, with viewers tuning in for 25 minutes on average. The peak concurrent live audience across both conventions was 250,000 viewers during Hillary Clinton’s speech Thursday evening, followed by Donald Trump’s July 21 speech at the RNC with 217,000.

Pictured above: Delegates on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.