Big hits, dual screens

By Alen Delic and Sarah Homewood

photo from smh.com.au

Dual-screening is the trend emerging from last weekend’s election coverage, with mastheads across Australia citing the rise of mobile and tablet technologies as the reason behind record breaking numbers.

The Sydney Morning Herald recorded 1.2 million unique browsers – the most it has ever had –while The Australian recorded a 40 per cent boost on its traffic. Other News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media mastheads recorded similar numbers.

The Sydney Morning Herald online editor Conal Hanna said its live news blog was running from the morning until it peaked in the evening.

“We set a new record for unique daily browsers with 1.2 million views on the smh.com.au alone, a million of those were on the live blog,” he said.

“We didn’t just experience a rise in hits, we also on Saturday increased our market share from 17 per cent to 21 per cent.”

The Australian’s online team was running a similar live news feed throughout the day, with reporters filing from across the country to capture the colour of the event.

“We put almost all of our efforts into the live blog, the live rolling coverage,” The Australian’s editor Clive Mathieson said.

“Whereas most of the other papers had focuses on their states, we focused on the national picture.”

The popularity of the website reflected in its traffic: it recorded a 40 per cent rise on the previous Saturday, a number already inflated because of the interest of Labor’s campaign launch.

Both editors attributed the numbers to the rise of dual-screening, the use of a mobile or tablet device while watching live coverage on television.

Fairfax found 40 per cent of its traffic was coming from mobile devices, while The Australian had been luring viewers from Sky News’ programs onto its website over the weekend with appearances from its reporters on Agenda.

“We have a terrific relationship with Sky News,” Mr Mathieson said.

“The faces are recognisable. We had video analysis from our reporters, like Dennis Shanahan. It’s a big part of the exposure for The Australian.”

Both Fairfax and The Australian also had live interactive results available, so users could check the status of their seats as they pleased.

Mr Hanna said it was one of the most popular features of its election coverage.

“One of the new things that we ran this year was a live feed of the results coming in,” he said.

“It meant that you didn’t have to wait for the presenters on the television to get to the seat you wanted information on, you could look it up yourself instantly yourself.”

Mr Mathieson said it was one of the most important nights on his newspaper’s calendar, with reporters doing their best to be involved.

“We had a good dozen people working in the office and maybe the same out in the field as well.

“And then there were plenty of people that weren’t rostered on that sent pieces in, wanting to get involved.

“It’s one of the biggest days of the year for us.”

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