2nd leaders' debate - rating the leaders' performances

by Abid Warsi on 23 April 2010

Last week I watched the election on my laptop to experience Social TV. The most interesting aspect was seeing how viewers’ ratings of the leaders changed throughout the debate. This week, I looked at the different ways in which websites or TV channels displayed viewers’ ratings to see which worked best.

Guardian’s Reaction tracker

The Guardian had a clear chart with a line for each of the leaders. However, it only updated once every minute. This wasn’t frequent enough for it to enhance the live viewing experience. When Gordon Brown told Nick Clegg to ‘Get real’ I wanted to know straight away what the viewers thought about it. But, by the time the chart updated the debate had moved on.

Sky TV’s bar chart

Sky TV’s bar chart tried to show the breadth of opinions. For example, they didn’t just show the average rating for Nick Clegg. Instead Sky showed how far the ratings from most people ranged for Nick Clegg. So, the more the ratings differed the taller the yellow bar would be. This added a different dimension to how the ratings were displayed. However, it was a little more complicated and harder to interpret than the Guardian’s simple line chart. Also, the bar didn’t seem to move that much and you had to look carefully to notice any movement.  Most of the time I wanted to look at the leaders themselves so I often missed changes in the ratings.

ITV’s Worm

I wrote about this last week. It showed whether viewers felt positively or negatively towards what the leaders were saying. A single line went up or down in reaction to what the leaders were saying. There were 2 great things about this. Firstly, the line moved instantly in reaction to what was being said, giving immediate reactions. Secondly, the scale was set just right so that when viewers liked/disliked a leader’s comments the line rose/dropped markedly, these made the changes look and feel more dramatic. Out of the 3 displays ITV’s Worm was the best to watch.

Viewer ratings can really add to the experience of watching a debate. I can see these becoming more common in Social TV. It’s important to consider the best way to display the ratings. They should grab the viewer’s attention by making changes noticeable and easy to interpret.

This ends a politically themed week here at Webcredible. See how we rated the websites of the UK political parties in a report we launched earlier this week.

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