CNN friends Facebook for inauguration

Site users will be able to watch ceremony through app

NEW YORK -- CNN.com is partnering with Facebook for an application that on Jan. 20 will allow the community's users to watch President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration while interacting with fellow social networkers.

Facebook members will be able to click to land on a special CNN.com Live page to see the inauguration and other activities. Integration between Facebook and CNN.com will allow them to stay on the page and still be linked to Facebook.

"You'll be able to watch the inaugural event live on CNN.com and see your status and your friend's status live as well," CNN.com senior vp and GM K.C. Estenson said Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where he was attending the Consumer Electronics Show.

CNN.com announced the Facebook partnership during a Thursday session at CES.

A prototype of the page splits the CNN.com Live page into three major segments, with the familiar upper-left-hand video window showing the inaugural stream above four smaller video streams. The right side of the page is taken up by the Facebook personal status update and then, below, the updates for the user's friends.

In any event, CNN.com -- and other sites -- are bracing for a large amount of activity on Jan. 20 as the at-work audience tunes in online during the day. It could be one of the highest, if not the highest, single video event in Web history. CNN.com is ready by building capacity beyond previous big events.

"We're going to be testing the bounds and capabilities of our content distribution network partners, but if this has a lot of usage, it has a chance to be one of the most-watched events in Internet history," Estenson said.

He said that the idea came up on Election Night, when so many Facebook users went back to their computers and posted updates that either expressed happiness or displeasure with the results. Execs thought that Facebook and CNN.com could assemble a way to make that easier and enhance the interactive nature of the event.

"This is a historic and monumental occasion for America and the world," Estenson said. "Wouldn't it be great if people could express their feelings about that in real time?"
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