Presidential Debates On Twitch Highlight New Generation Of Politics

by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim and Lee Igel

Twitch viewers of the debates between United States President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were more engaged in the substance of the matter than those following along through CNN, FOX News, and the New York Times. Despite the headlines in traditional news sources, the big news is that fans of esports and gaming are engaging in the 2020 election in a new way and at a new level. If elected officials are truly serious about focusing on the next generation and its impact on the future, why aren’t they paying attention to where that group is now?

More than 73 million people tuned in to television broadcasts of the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden. More than 63 million tuned in for the second round. While many observers were weighing in on the television numbers and viewer reactions, they missed out on the over one-million viewers on live-streaming platforms such as Twitch.

Research conducted for the Mayors ESports Network highlighted a fundamental difference in the conversations and exchanges taking place during the debate among audiences across CNN, FOX News, the New York Times, and Twitch. The research, led by teams from New York University and Shenandoah University, analyzed 1,000 comments posted on each of the outlets’ sites. The differences between them–and, especially, the “mainstream” CNN, FOX News, and the New York Times and the “newstream” Twitch–are clear.

The first thing has to do with what viewers were interested in about the debate. On CNN, FOX News, and the New York Times, the discussion was about the quality, or lack thereof, of the debate and who was perceived to be winning. On Twitch, viewers were concerned about how engaging the debate was–that is, what the candidates were saying. In both debates, Twitch viewers expressed an openness to listening in a markedly different way than the viewers on any of the traditional stations.

The next thing is that a quarter of the users across all channels and platforms were disappointed in the first debate. More of the viewers on CNN, FOX News, and The New York Times showed levels of anger in the first debate and were supportive of the candidate in the second debate.  Twitch viewers, however, weren’t expressing anger or a similar emotion. They were surprised by what was being said by the candidates and supportive of what the candidates are proposing to do should they win election to the White House.  It resembled an audience that cares about tomorrow and wants facts.

There was also a real difference in the content and tone of support. On the CNN, FOX News, and New York Times channels, supportive comments were primarily for and about a preferred candidate. Meanwhile, on Twitch, support comments were primarily for and about primarily the idea being discussed on the debate stage.

For example, when healthcare alternatives were being discussed, the bulk of comments on CNN and The New York Times were supportive of Biden, while comments of FOX News were supportive of Trump. On Twitch, the comments were about the realities and prospects for healthcare plans, such as what kinds of options would be available and who would be covered.

The final thing is to take notice of: the reference points used. Commentators on CNN, FOX News, and The New York Times were trying to prove a point about a candidate or policy matter. On Twitch, commenters were posting links and screenshots of studies from reputable medical journals in an effort to learn with each other. As one member of the Conference of Mayors research team noted about what was happening on Twitch channels, “the sheer amount of information that was put out was more substantial than any other platform.”

As the debates went on, the Twitch audiences were fact-checking at a rate almost two times more, used negative references and name-calling much less, and referenced memes in conversation much more than audiences on CNN, FOX News, or The New York Times. To be sure, the language being used in comments on Twitch was decidedly more vulgar. But it showed up in a way that is a norm on the platform, in a manner that doesn’t take away from–and, to an extent, enhances–the content.

Twitch is often thought of by most people as an island where esports and gaming fanatics find entertainment. But it is actually a much larger community that seeks out engagement. Interestingly, on Twitch, the politics-related conversation is about us, while on traditional channels the conversation is about us versus them.

As the 2020 campaigns make the stretch run to Election Day, there is increasing excitement about efforts aimed at getting Millennials and Gen Z to turn out for the vote. Campaigns interested in attracting voters would do well to pay attention to where what they call “the future” are now and the ways they are engaging.

Elizabeth Haas Edersheim is an adjunct professor and Lee Igel is a professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport. They lead an NYU initiative with the United States Conference of Mayors Professional Sports Alliance that produces new knowledge on sports in cities.

January 1, 2018

This morning, Frances Hesselbein asked me, as she regularly does, the Peter F. Drucker question:

When you look out the window, what do you see that is not yet visible?

As I looked out the window (literally), my attention was drawn to something very visible: a curled brown leaf dancing over a snow-covered field. That brought to mind an Einstein quote:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

If you don’t know Frances: You should. She rose from a volunteer troop leader to CEO of the Girl Scouts, which she turned around when it was on the brink of failure. She’s a leadership expert , who has taught at West Point and was the first woman on the cover of Business Week.

Anyway. I laughed and told Frances it feels like we are living a “back to the future” moment, like Americans did in the waning horse-and-buggy days. Frances asked, how are you seeing this in organizations? I responded: What is visible and not yet fully noticed is “Charlotte’s web” and “Marvin ear.”

Charlotte’s Web: That’s the power and promise of the connections that defines us now — artificial intelligence meshes; DNA databases, currency platforms, the innovative combinations that follow. These connections are changing our trust compasses, expanding what is possible.

An example: WhileI was staying at a hotel land tossedmy towel on the floor in the morning, I realized if I were staying at an Air BnB, I would never do this. I have an identity in an AirBnB. Charlotte would write “sloppy” in the web

Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who thinks and talks more about sustainability than all his predecessors combined, called on a network of CEOs from institutions growing beans to serving cofee. Together, they ]modified processes to save enough water for a million people every year. When he did the same thing with CEOs in Switzerland, they reduced the collective carbon footprint by a third.

And this: I recently read about the network for collective learning and scaling ideas that Teach for All is operating.

Sometimes I get frightened. Like when I read Scott Galloway’s book, The Four, about Uber paying its top executives almost $1 million an hour and its drivers $7.25 an hour. Or the prediction that Amazon will be sending me my needs every week, with a return box inside, getting smaller and smaller, as Amazon learns my needs better than I know them myself.

To anwer Frances: Looking out the window, I see a force that is changing the game, a force that can be incredibly good. And yet I see the downside: Ideas built for a time when we believed in freedom are upended. No business, no government agency is truly wired for this age. Frances, we are at a crossroads: We can harness the forces out there for humanity, or we can undermine democracy.

Marvin ear: is the cognition associated with everyone in an organization having a voice, creating tomorrow. Marvin Bower, McKinsey & Co’s founder believed that the Great Depression arose in part because employees in organizations failed to tell CEOs what customers were telling them, creating a gap in organization intelligence. Today, too, front-line associates know more about the day-to-day challenges than their bosses The truly responive organizations are embracing this.

For example Ultimate Guitar, based in Moscow, gives every employee two mentors — one in their area, such as software development, and a pitch coach, to work with on translating their ideas into experiments that are tried and from which the organization learns. Ultimate Guitar has pitch meetings once a week; every employee has to pitch at least one idea every six weeks.

Say what you want about Google’s innovations, but here’s what I like: , Employees spend 20% of their time dealing with the next challenge, not today’s routine work; the organizaiton has changed how they hire and develop eployees with an absolute emphasis on building employee voice and teams; Google has rules to help women self-promote and so forth.

Of course, Frances knew how to put all this in perspective: “Jim Collins calls those edgy companies.”

I turned the question to Frances, who was born before World War I. What is visible but not seen? “Millenals are the greatest generation of leaders since the Crucible Generation,” she said, referring to those associated with WWII.” I thought of you. Happy 2018.

Reviving Management: Don’t Reinvent Management, Apply Lessons From History To Shape Tomorrow

From corporate boardrooms to small-business incubators, from academic conferences to MBA classrooms, discussions center on re-inventing management. McKinsey and Gary Hamel are offering generous prizes for reinvention ideas.  But why re-invent something that’s been invented and practiced for centuries – from building pyramids to organizing classrooms?

As a discipline, managements can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century. Management has made possible a world in which organizations are so woven into the fabric of our lives that we take them for granted, from art museums and advertising agencies to zipper manufacturers and funeral homes.  One might even say that today a civilization is the summary of the organizations that exist. And yet so often we complain about “bad management,” “tone-deaf management” – whether we’re talking about an airline that has surly employees or a cruise ship that sinks while the captain appears to be cavorting.  Why does management constantly frustrate us?

Management has a history of creating idea after idea, a permanent revolution – Theory X versus Theory Y; lean manufacturing; the balanced score-card; the learning-organizaiton, 6-sigma and total quality control; Porter’s five-forces; re-engineering, empowering, change-management, clustering, integrative design…Today, over three quarter of a million people are studying management at the graduate level and it is the most popular undergraduate degree in the world.  Yet universities are teaching the theories of the day, not the time-tested lessons of practice.

Too often, we throw away what we know in a misguided attempt to create a new theory. For example, when Tom Peters and Bob Waterman wrote In Search of Excellence, they documented timeless principles about great management. Unfortunately, years later when several firms they featured failed to deliver, the lessons were pushed aside.   When the Dana Corp. went bankrupt in 2008, for example, the media stopped reciting lessons from visionary CEO Rene McPherson.

If the Hostess Co. had learned from Rene McPherson’s lessons, 18,500 people would still be employed and making a difference. Consider this line from McPherson: “The way you stay fresh – you never stop traveling, you never stop listening, you never stop asking people what they think.” The maker of Twinkies and Ring Dings died when management stopped challenging practices and assumptions, and the old way of doing business was assumed to be the right way – the only way.   Hostess died when it stopped respecting customers and when  new ideas were not encouraged.

We do not need to reinvent management.  We need to synthesize what we’ve learned over the decades, make it practical, and individually and collectively reapply the lessons to the challenges of tomorrow.   The biggest failure of management is the habit of taking a snapshot of a moment in time and try to reinvent theories, rather than to recognize that management is a living practice. In that way, it’s like medicine. Even the experts have a great deal to learn from past practices  and thousands of decisions, adapted to today’s context.

A great idea in management is a great idea, whether in the era of industrialization or connected-commerce. When Jim Collins wrote Built to Last, he jokingly told his publisher, “We should just call it, ‘Drucker had it right.’”  His co-author Jerry Porrassaid, “How about Waterman and Peters had it right.”

Waterman and Peters credit Chester Barnard, the pioneering AT&T executive who said corporations will collapse unless they emphasize effectiveness of people.  Chester Barnard was the Steve Jobs of the 1920s and 1930s.

Rather than embracing the next new idea, management needs access to the notions and experiments that have been tested, the practice that’s made a difference.  That’s why we have drafted an interactive tool to help managers access the best ideas.  We named it TheME, which stands for “The Elements of Management Effectiveness.”  It is available on the Web at or at the App store for the iPad.

Its integrated framework provides users easy access to quotes, video clips, anecdotes, and exercises for solving problems, envisioning a new venture, starting a conversation, or simply learning about management, past and present.

As Peter Drucker phrased it, from the outside, business can look like “a seemingly mindless game of chance at which any donkey could win provided only that he be ruthless.  But that is of course how any human activity looks to the outsider unless it can be shown to be purposeful, organized, systematic; that is unless it can be presented as the generalized knowledge of a discipline.” Our challenge: present management as a generalized knowledge. Management must reapply its lessons; it must revive to survive.  Take your hand to ThEME.   Let us know the lessons that are missing, as well as those lessons that you find useful. Tell us how you are using history to create tomorrow.