Microsoft News: Espectador.com is the online presence of Uruguay’s oldest and most-respected radio station, Radio El Espectador. When covering the 2009 presidential elections, Espectador.com wanted to offer a dramatically enhanced Web experience to grow its audience and advertising revenue. The company worked with Microsoft Uruguay and Microsoft Certified Partner Innicia to create new online news offerings that used Microsoft Silverlight.
A team consisting of three developers and one designer built three downloadable applications for the primary, general, and run-off elections over a period of just six months. The applications work with Espectador.com’s Linux and PHP infrastructure and take advantage of local processing and storage resources so that people can easily explore news reports, poll results, policy statements, audio and video clips, and other information.
“The Web offers the same immediacy that was historically the strong point of news delivered over the radio,” says Gonzalo Sobral, CEO of Espectador.com. “Our station was among the first to broadcast news from international wire feeds in the 1930s, providing people with news stories faster than ever before. Today, more and more people depend on the Web to stay informed of the latest events. Therefore, we see a close link between the two mediums, and our Web efforts have built on the established reputation of our radio business.”
Espectador.com continues to seek out new ways to enhance its news services to grow its online audience and attract more advertisers. Approaching the Uruguayan general election in 2009, Espectador.com saw an opportunity to differentiate itself from other news sources.
Uruguay’s general election is a tremendous news event in that country, taking place once every five years and deciding not only the office of president but also the entire General Assembly. Uruguay’s constitution also makes voting compulsory so that the nation’s 2.5 million registered voters (out of a total population of 3.4 million) must vote in the general election and run-off election for the office of president, if no single candidate wins a majority of the votes.
As his group was considering new approaches to cover the upcoming national elections, Sobral had the opportunity to meet with the Director of Microsoft Uruguay, Eduardo Mangarelli. “We talked about what Microsoft did with MSN.com during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, especially how it used Microsoft Silverlight to make its coverage stand out,” says Sobral. “Silverlight technology offers a new experience that is both richer and more accessible than traditional Web sites.”
Going into the 2009 general elections, the managing team at Espectador.com decided to investigate creating a new type of experience for its audience, with a goal of attracting more visitors who would spend more time engaged with the site. The team also expected to sign up more advertisers who were willing to spend more money to advertise through a more engaging medium.
Working with Microsoft Certified Partner Innicia , also based in Montevideo, Espectador.com created a smart-client application by using Silverlight for the primary elections held on June 28, 2009. This initial application, as seen in Figure 1, featured news, policy details, statistics, poll results, and tabulated votes for each of the 10 candidates running in the three major political-party primaries. The application also included multimedia, such as audio and video recordings of speeches.