Amazon To Stream Obama’s Final State Of The Union; Lyrics Site Genius To Power Annonations

Following news of last night’s Golden Globes wins, Amazon has now taken another step to establish itself as a streaming media competitor worth notice: for the first time, the company will now make President Obama’s State of the Union address available for on-demand streaming through its Amazon Instant Video service, says White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman. The speech will also be available via the White House website and the previously established YouTube channel.

However, by bringing this year’s SOTU to another platform, the White House is further acknowledging that the way people are “watching TV” has changed – that is, instead of just broadcasting the speech live across network TV and a couple of places on the web, the White House is working to reach viewers on the streaming services they’re already using. And Amazon is one of the top services used today, thanks to its tie-in with the popular Amazon Prime membership program.

Goldman acknowledges this shift in a blog post announcing the news, saying:

“Around this time each year, our job in the Office of Digital Strategy has been to find new or expanded ways for the American people to engage with the President’s address. That means meeting people where they are — and in this day and age, that starts by recognizing that even people following on two screens don’t just flip back and forth between a TV and a smartphone. We jump from different social media platforms — and we have shifting assumptions about the type of experience we’ll have on each.

So what does it mean to ‘meet people where they are?’ First, it means recognizing the massive shift in the American media diet toward on-demand video…”


So, for those who’ve cut the cord from cable and network TV: Whether you use a smart TV, web browser, mobile device, or tablet there’s a way for you to watch the President’s speech as it happens and on-demand.”

Amazon will post the final SOTU for on-demand viewing on Wednesday, and it will also become a home to Obama’s past addresses, allowing viewers to watch the speeches on Amazon’s cross-platform apps for mobile, tablets, PC, or TV.

Plus, with another nod to how people are using technology differently in 2016, Goldman also pointed to seven marked-up versions of the President’s previous State of the Union addresses and the 2009 Joint Session of Congress, where lyrics and annotations service Genius is powering the interactive line-by-line annotations.

Says Goldman, the annotations are meant to provide more context about Obama’s specific proposals, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the speeches came together.

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This the first time ever that the White House has turned to the annotation platform to reach web users, notes Genius. Included in the digital collaboration will be voices from the White House, like Vice President Joe Biden, and former Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, who is contributing his own personal insights and anecdotes about featured elements in President Obama’s addresses. Another dozen or so White House staffers were involved in the effort, too.

Genius users are invited to share their own thoughts and reactions, and some of those submissions may be highlighted, notes Goldman. Following the final SOTU on Tuesday, Genius says it will post an annotated version of the speech on January 12.

The White House, and not just the current administration, has been embracing technological advances for some time when it comes to reaching people using modern media, Goldman points out. He notes that the first live webcast took place in 2002 during President George W. Bush’s administration, for example, and Bush also broadcast the address for the first time in high-def. Meanwhile, Obama’s 2011 State of the Union was the first time a President offered an “enhanced” live stream, referring to the slides that are shown alongside the speech itself.

Obama’s final State of the Union Address will air at 9:00PM EST on Tuesday night, January 12, 2016.

Image credits: The White House; Jason Goldman