Getting an interactive Internet program broadcast out to 500,000 proves to be a true pioneering effort; Oprah.com and Harpo Productions demonstrate the value of transparent communication to your audience as a result of a communication technology breakdown. From the Web Event web site at about 10:00 p.m. EST:
Congestive heart failure is a disease where functioning of your heart continues but in a somewhat weakened state. Last night 500,000 logins was too much for Oprah.com. In spite of moving information over the Internet at 242 Gbps, Oprah’s Web Event1 suffered congestive Internet failure. Some got a steady stream apparently during the first 15 to 20 minutes after a 9:00 p.m. start, whereas others (myself included) received intermittent coverage that eventually just froze. Harpo Productions, however, was quick to put out an apology and explanations, via both the Oprah.com website and emails to all who registered:
Harpo Productions, Inc., Move Networks and Limelight Networks recognize that interactive Internet broadcasting to a mass audience is still an emerging medium, and we’re proud to have been pioneers in pushing the industry forward. We deeply regret that some of our audience did not have an optimal viewing experience and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The first session of the webinar will be available in its entirety for viewing on Oprah.com or for downloading as a podcast on Oprah.com or iTunes on Tuesday, March 4.
In the public relations space, it’s called quickly and transparently acknowledging your issues and getting a message (any message) out to your target audience.
As for Skype’s involvement, during the snippets I could watch in 15-20 second intervals, Oprah took two questions over Skype High Quality Video from Illinois, one an individual and one a group watching at a Borders store in Chicago. A couple of comments:
- The bar with the Skype logo remained on screen during the entire dialogue with each questioner. No brief ten second impressions here; this was an ongoing continuous five minute impression! And repeated for each questioner.
- At one point I heard Oprah say something along the lines of “Let’s go back to Kelly via Skype. This Skype is ‘wonderful’: I didn’t even know about Skype until a couple of weeks ago.”
- The Skype High Quality Video logo appeared continuously in the upper left hand corner of both the video calls I was able to view.
When the webcast is available later today, I’ll go back and listen for more details on what is hopefully an uninterrupted stream. Being available as a webcast and a downloadable podcast, there will be lots of residual impressions for Skype. As one of my fellow bloggers commented to me in a chat session: “OMG, the Oprahfication of Skype!”
With nine more Monday night “classes” scheduled, this will be as interesting for the communications technology story and associated public relations activity as for the book’s content.
1 Due to the dynamic nature of this landing page, the content may change with time. As of 8:00 a.m. EST Tuesday, March 4 it started out: “Monday night’s webcast was one of the largest single online events in the history of the Internet. More than 500,000 people simultaneously logged on to watch Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle live, resulting in 242 Gbps of information moving through the Internet. Unfortunately, some of our users experienced delays in viewing the webcast. We are working to identify the specific causes for the problems experienced and will work diligently to rectify them.”