It turned out to be a historical night. For the first time ever in Sweden, Aftonbladet transmitted the party leader debate online.
Streamed and shared
The debate has been applauded by both viewers and the party leaders themselves. It has proved popular with the viewers, with 17,000 tweets on #abdebatt and 314,168 initiated streaming sessions.
The congratulations poured in on social media: ‘Very impressive!’, ‘Bravo #abdebatt for livening up the election campaign!’, and ‘Excellent production!’ were some of the reactions on Twitter.
Program host Karin Magnusson was also praised for her performance:
‘Congratulations #Aftonbladet to @KarinMagnusson, a world-class program host!’, and ‘Well done to super-professional @KarinMagnusson!’ were some of the reactions.
“I’m incredibly proud that were entrusted with this – and that we honored it. The party leader debate has never gone to a media house outside SVT and TV4. The fact that the viewers appreciated it means everything,” says Magnusson.
United in praise
The party leaders were also full of praise for the first party leader debate in the run-up to the election.
“I think it was good. It had a modern format and was professionally done. I think it will work well in the future, too,” says Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s Prime Minister.
Stefan Löfven, leader of the Social Democratic Party, agrees.
“I think it was good, and a bit different with musical intermissions in between everything else. The studio setting was well set up.”
Magnusson herself was also pleased with how the debate went.
“This is a difficult job. We want people to get answers to their questions, to bring out the differences, but then there are lots of other things that have to work, too. You have to give everyone the chance to speak in order to be as fair as possible. You have a whole pile of things to think about. All in all, I think I passed,” she says and praises the entire editorial staff.
Aftonbladet’s party leader debate was not only transmitted on aftonbladet.se. Its rival Expressen TV also showed the questions session – as did YouTube, Magine, and Svenska Dagbladet.
“When we first cover a debate like this we want the coverage to be as broad as possible. That’s why we transmitted it on multiple channels. With content like this, that’s a good thing. Of course, it’s also making a statement that a new TV universe is taking shape,” says Jan Helin, Editor-in-chief at Aftonbladet.
He believes the Swedish media landscape is on the point of being totally transformed.
“I think we see that there are many players who can handle such a complex TV transmission like this. And that we can generate a level of engagement that far surpasses what can be achieved if you only do it in a broadcasting channel. That was clear tonight,” Helin says.