Facebook Media

The Comey Testimony: How Publishers Used Video To Cover the Event + Engage Audiences

By Daniel Danker, Director of Product, and Jason White, News Partnerships, Facebook

On June 8, tens of millions of people turned to Facebook to watch and discuss former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. From broadcasts of the live hearing to recap videos, publishers used video to communicate the moments of the day with audiences in a range of engaging ways. Videos related to the testimony had nearly 8 million comments, reactions, and shares. Those videos received 89 million views by the end of the day.

Setting the Scene Before the Hearing

Across Facebook, one of the most shared videos of the day was a video from NowThis summarizing Comey’s opening statement. The video was also one of the most viewed videos related to the hearing, racking up 1.5 million views on June 8.


Washington DC’s ABC affiliate, WJLA’s time lapse video of people waiting to enter the hearing gave audiences a first-hand look at just how many people were in line for one of the 88 seats available to the public.

Video was essential to Sinclair’s overall plan to cover James Comey’s testimony, led by ABC 7 – WJLA covering the build-up to the testimony and inside bars across DC and the Beltway to quick social storytelling videos created by Circa, our millennial digital news property. Those two outfits provided content for crossposting across our 67+ stations, which also broadcast the testimony via the Facebook Live API to inform and engage their communities in dialogue about the proceedings. – John Colucci, Social Media Director, Sinclair Broadcast Group


Live From the Testimony

On June 8, there were 26 million live views of videos related to the testimony.

Fox News’ Facebook Live broadcast of Comey‘s testimony received more than 280,000 live reactions, making it one of the hearing-related videos with the highest engagement.”


The New York Times went live with a straightforward broadcast of the hearing in action. The Live video was one of the most watched broadcasts of the testimony, garnering more than 800,000 views while live and more than 1 million that day overall.


NowThis went live from the testimony while also featuring their editors providing commentary throughout the video. Back in the studio, the editors answered viewer comments and helped people gain a better understanding of what was going on, resulting in it being one of the most shared videos related to the hearing that day.

“Our approach at NowThis has always been to bring our millennial audience news coverage on the platforms where they are, in the formats they prefer. Our coverage of the Comey trial was no different. We wanted to create an interactive, on-the-go, in-feed experience where they could conveniently be a part of this moment in history — and Facebook was the perfect place to do that.” – Athan Stephanopoulos, President of NowThis


The Washington Post had one of the most shared live videos tied to the hearing. They mixed live footage of the hearing with analysis and commentary from reporters Callum Borchers and Elise Viebeck who explained what the day’s hearing could mean for President Trump. People shared the video more than 6,800 times on Facebook.

“We love the immediacy of live programming because not only are we bringing news events to viewers but we complement it with smart analysis in real time. We continue to see Facebook Live as a great way to expand our reach and showcase our journalism.” – Micah Gelman, director of video for The Washington Post.


Engaging Recaps and Commentary

Following the testimony, The New York Times engaged its audience on Facebook with a live Q&A with political reporter Mike Schmidt. Mike talked about the experience of being in the room for the testimony, and provided key takeaways through his responses to viewer questions.


In addition to its livestream of the testimony, The Boston Globe created short video clips with overlay quotes highlighting key moments. They also produced an “everything you need to know about James Comey’s testimony” video that was shared on Facebook. Each video was accompanied by links to more coverage on BostonGlobe.com.

It was obvious that Facebook was going to be the primary way that many of our readers were going to watch the Comey testimony. We took a full court press approach, streaming the the testimony via Facebook Live as well as aggressively cutting and uploading videos that represented key moments. – Matt Karolian, Director, Audience Engagement, The Boston Globe


Sinclair’s Circa produced a video to recap for audiences the headlines out the hearing with graphic overlays of key quotes from the day.


Video has the unique ability to bring people together around topics and events that matter to them, and we’re excited to see the connections and conversations that live video and in-depth analysis can create. We expect the role of video in community to continue to grow as events unfold in the world around us.