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The Beast That Ate the News Cycle

How online video is reshaping the political landscape.

12:30 PM, Oct 18, 2011 • By OWEN BRENNAN
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It’s an important question to answer, because the GOP got killed by Obama’s online video operation in 2008. Even though YouTube was only a couple of years old during that election cycle, “Obama stole the show” with online video, according to US News and World Report.

·      Obama’s YouTube channel had 115,000 subscribers and his supporters engaged with the campaign by uploading more than 1,800 YouTube videos .

·      McCain’s YouTube Channel had 28,000 subscribers. And his supporters engaged with the campaign by uploading 330 videos.

·      In total, Obama’s channel had more than 97 million video views, while the McCain channel only had 25 million video views.

Knowing the power of online video, Obama launched the White House’s first YouTube channel, which has had its uploaded videos viewed more than 62 million times. Obama’s personal channel has more than 165 million views.

Across town, the RNC created a channel that’s had 4 million views. Ron Paul deserves credit for reaching more than 31 million people on his YouTube channels. And leave it to an actual businessman, Herman Cain, to have more views of his videos than the guy who has been running since 2006, the year in which Mitt Romney’s YouTube channel was created. Cain clocks in at 1.9 million views since his channel was created in 2010. Romney has 1.6 million in five years.

Online video will be driving the news cycle in the run up to the November 2012. Next year, though, the tens of millions of views won’t be of a biker getting mauled in South Africa, a double rainbow (all the way), and epic wildlife battles. Instead, the  mainstream media will broadcast the best videos being produced about the battle on the campaign trail. The side that has the most creative, compelling videos that are on message will have the best chance of controlling the news cycle, framing the debate, and winning the White House.

Owen Brennan, a former speechwriter for Mayor Giuliani and the FDNY and a former producer for Bill O’Reilly, is now a writer and producer of online video in Los Angeles. He can be reached at

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