Oprah: A New Earth Session 2 Coming Up

Earlier this week Skype Journal reported on Skype’s sponsorship of Oprah.com’s Web Events involving “classes” discussing Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. A unique aspect of this presentation involved “full duplex” video dialogues as viewers posed questions. In some cases the viewers were supplied with the appropriate webcam and dual processor PC so that they could use Skype’s High Quality Video to support the dialogue with Oprah and Eckhart. Unfortunately last Monday’s initial session was fraught with network congestion issues as Harpo Productions attempted to support viewing by over 500,000 participants. However, I was finally able to watch the entire presentation once the video download or streaming was made available Tuesday.

caseyetanewearthfs300pxMy one key observation about the impact of the video technology is being able to watch the viewer’s facial expressions change as her/his question is answered. It provides an additional perspective to the discussion through watching the viewer’s emotional response as a complement to the verbal dialogue between the viewer and either Oprah or Eckhart. Using High Quality Video allows the viewer to be seen at the same level of video quality as the primary video feed from the main studio. Even when the viewer was shown full screen there was minimal pixelation; it allows the technology to take a back seat to the primary presentation and discussion as opposed to being a distraction. Bottom line: a viewing experience that focuses on the subject matter under review. And [switching to Skype cheerleader mode] you had to love Oprah’s comment during one dialogue: “Thank God for Skype!”. Whereas a year ago I was a skeptic about the value of video in conversations, watching this show, following my Skype High Quality Video experiences of the past few months, changed my viewpoint.

This weekend Oprah distributed an email to her book club registrants:

To Students of A New Earth,

Like you, I was deeply disappointed that so many dedicated webcast participants around the world were unable to view our first live webcast.

Experts from both Limelight Networks and Move Networks, our partners in bringing this groundbreaking experience to the Internet, believe they have identified and addressed the programming problem that was unmasked by a historic number of simultaneous users. While we were certainly prepared for the more than 700,000 people registered and continue to be assured that capacity was not the issue…it is clear that pioneering this new platform will always come with risks. So, that said…the team believes we are good to go for another try.

Since Monday night, over 1.5 million people have streamed or downloaded the webcast, and that option will be available on Tuesday of each week after all of the next nine classes.

I have been encouraged by the thousands of message board posts cheering us on to continue the live classes on Monday nights, and so we will keep moving forward, attempting to break new ground.

If you are willing to partner with me in exploring this new frontier — I’ll see you in class live on Monday. Otherwise, you can stream or download the class on Tuesday or whenever it’s convenient. I understand the frustration and leave it to you to experience the class in whatever way works best.

— Oprah

For those who always asked about Skype promotion, does 1.5 million viewings over a one week period answer their concerns about Skype’s awareness generation in North America? I would probably expect around 1 million real exposures as there were four options for downloading and I’m sure, as I experienced, lots of visitors made a couple of attempts to determine a suitable format for viewing or listening.

[In case you had any doubt about the power of an Oprah endorsement: Earlier today, while visiting a Staples, I asked where I could find a Post-It Flag Highlighter — a co-sponsor with Skype and GM Chevrolet division of this event. In an unsolicited response the Staples associate told me the store had been inundated with requests for this new book reading tool as a result of Oprah’s using it on one of her shows. Also worth noting – While Skype’s only appearance during Oprah’s class is the actual use of Skype High Quality Video with the Skype logo in the name bar as shown above, the other two co-sponsors only had ads that were inserted every 20 minutes or so during the event.]

There was a caveat with respect to tomorrow’s second class (of ten):

We are asking you to arrive early to take your seat. On Sunday, you will receive an e-mail that contains your special link and specific time to enter class. If you arrive after 8:55/7:55c, there is a chance you will be unable to participate in the live Web event. Our goal is to provide as many of you as possible with a positive experience. If we should see a significant decline in video quality, we may limit the size of the class that evening.

Today I received that email with a link; I’ll report on the outcome.

Tags: Skype, Skype High Quality Video, Oprah, Oprah.com, Oprah Book Club Web Event, Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, Post-It Flag Highlighter, GM Chevrolet Division

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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