What was that about Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart, again?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Well … whoops.

The much-hyped “Rumble In the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” between Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart on GW’s campus Saturday night was chided the minute it hit the Internet’s airwaves, considering that how once it hit those peculiar airwaves … the airwaves blowed up real good. “All told, this could be one small step for political commentary, and one giant leap for Internet television mankind,” I wrote before the thing kicked off Saturday afternoon. And about that giant leap …

“It didn’t help that many of the users who coughed up $4.95 to watch the debate online Saturday night — including this reporter — attempted to log in and were instead met with error messages,” The Los Angeles Times‘ Meredith Blake wrote earlier today. “So widespread were the technical difficulties that Roger Ebert tweeted about them, and ‘The Rumble’ organizers issued a statement promising a refund to those unable to watch live.”

“Same company running #Rumble2012 stream runs O’Reilly’s site, Dennis Miller’s…They’ve never had 2 worry abt traffic,” Rolling Stone‘s Jon Dolan quipped this morning as he cited an anonymous Twitter feed’s frustrations with the event. 

“‘Daily Show’ comedian Jon Stewart debated Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on a national webcast Saturday night,” the Christian Science Monitor‘s Peter Grier wrote today. “Who won their ‘Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium?’ The audience, for one. (Particularly the members of the live audience in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, since they didn’t have to suffer from slow or frozen Internet connections due to servers overloaded by viewer demand.)”

And now we pause for a long sigh.

Anyway, the thing still happened. Most reviews seem to be mixed, as though the clever reporters who thought such a clever event would be clever-heavy weren’t entirely sold on the clever aspect of the evening. It’s odd, really — what were you expecting? The most memorable 90 minutes of political satire ever known to mankind? One of these dudes poses as a real, live and serious talking head on a real, live and serious 24-hour news channel. The other one is a comedian. I mean, this wasn’t going to be a reenactment of “The Prince and the Pauper,” was it?

More importantly for us TV Without A TV types, it all proved to be a disaster in terms of live streaming. Actually, disaster may even be too kind a description. You actually had people forking over money for this. Having it all be a failure isn’t just a disappointment — it’s irresponsible. You’d think these people would have had all the kinks worked out beforehand, considering this wasn’t going to be some unnamed Russian feed that cuts away to Vlad Putin commercials every three minutes. But, sadly, it was not to be.

And now the Web TV skeptics are going to continue to be … skeptical. That’s fair. The one time a large amount of people actually have a general interest in an Internet-only product, the Internet-only gods look down, shrug their shoulders and say, “Welp. I guess we aren’t really ready for this yet,” and walk away. A giant leap, it was not, though we would have settled for a tiny crawl.

Unfortunately, we didn’t even get that.

So it goes. With the infuriating VMA debacle, the nonexistent Emmy broadcast and this behind us, the world of Internet television can only go up from here, right? Besides, if all else fails, don’t forget: There’s always Netflix.


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