When Mad Men ended, I cut my cable package before I could get addicted to any new shows. Netflix would give me plenty of content to watch and my local sports bar would be a fine venue in which to view any can’t-miss sports events. Problem solved.
But I forgot about the 2016 election. In August, the GOP held its first debate on Fox News. Luckily, I happened to be at a local watering hole with fellow politically-minded folks for an event, so the manager happily turned on the debate and the sound as we ordered dinner.
For the second GOP debate and first Democratic debate, CNN wisely decided to stream the debate for free on its mobile app. A visit to the App Store later, I propped up the iPad on my coffee table and enjoyed the show. (With some intermittent buffering and breaks in the feed due to the strain on CNN’s servers.)
With Wednesday night’s debate on CNBC, there was no easy, legal way to livestream the broadcast. Vox provided a handy tip that one could start a free 7-day trial of CNBCPro to stream the broadcast—but if you forgot, you’d be on the hook for a $29.99 monthly subscription. No thanks. And good luck trying to get a bar to hand over a TV on a night with a World Series game.
By not requiring broadcast partners to provide a free stream of the debates, the GOP and the Democrats have missed an opportunity to engage millennials and Generation Z. According to a Deloitte survey, 47 percent of older millennials view TV on a computer, smartphone or tablet. That percentage increases to 56 percent for the younger members of that generation. Pair this data with the Pew Research Center’s, which found that Millennials are also less interested in and less likely to talk about politics than Gen X or the Boomers and you can see that the parties aren’t effectively engaging this generation.
Yes, many young voters will only fire up a stream to see if Donald Trump will insult someone. But it engages millennials in the process. To say nothing of the Boomers, who are just as ready to cut the cord as their children but are more engaged politically.
The GOP and CNBC both missed an opportunity to reach younger voters last night. Here’s hoping the parties and broadcasters don’t make the same mistake for the remaining primary debates.