MSNBC.com Won’t Say Why Their Debate Webcast Failed

Last Tuesday, MSNBC.com webcast the Clinton and Obama debate and suffered some major technical problems. Lots of users all over the country had problems like I did with the video constantly buffering making it impossible to watch the MSNBC webcast at all. Fortunately, other news sites had no problems with their webcast feed and with a little help from other frustrated viewers, the links that did work quickly got passed around.

For days I have been asking MSNBC what went wrong but they wouldn’t say. A few days after the event,  MSNBC.com e-mailed me an official statement they posted on their website stating:

"On Tuesday, Feb. 26, msnbc.com’s live simulcast of the Democratic
debate on MSNBC was hindered by technical difficulties. Many users
experienced buffering and stuttering as they attempted to watch the
debate. Msnbc.com has years of success at streaming high volumes of
live video, and we apologize for letting some of you down on Tuesday.
"

For me, simply saying they had "technical difficulties" is not sufficient. Webcasting has been around over twelve years now, and for something as important at a debate like this one, which could only be viewed on one TV station, MSNBC, with many like myself don’t get if they have FiOS TV, not having a successful webcast is unacceptable. It’s was only a week before the MSNBC.com webcast that CNN webcast a debate with no technical issues at all. I didn’t see a single complaint by any users on the web about the CNN webcast.

While MSNBC.com states it has "years of success at streaming high volumes of live video…." I think many like me would disagree. Once again, MSNBC.com had no difficulty in delivering me a video add before the webcast stream that didn’t work. This vicious cycle has been going on for some time with MSNBC.com and many like me have been complaining about it for quite a while.

It was nine year’s ago that the infamous Victoria Secret webcast failure took place. This time around the topic of the MSNBC.com webcast had some real importance, broadband adoption wasn’t a problem and the video streaming platforms weren’t new. Yet nine year’s later, we’re still talking about a large event having a high failure rate. Is the Internet really ready for large scale TV like webcasts? It may be, but clearly MSNBC.com isn’t.

  • JohnG

    Dan, just curious. Was it ever determined what CDN was being used? The original thread had some initial comments, but no conclusion. Thanks in advance.

  • http://www.BusinessOfVideo.com Dan Rayburn

    Sorry, don’t know. MSNBC.com won’t say who was delivering the video and the CDNs I asked stated for the record they were not delivering it. Makes me think MSNBC.com may have tried to do it themselves, but just don’t know.

  • Nico

    It had to have been Limelight (a.k.a. LLNW) – it’s easy to see port 1935 on .llnw. in the netstat results – I posted it in the previously mentioned thread night of event.
    N

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