For the second year in a row, ABC wasn’t able to pull off a successful Oscars webcast without some major technical problems. The backstage stream I was watching on the PC got messed up and cut over to the World News Tonight program just before the start of the awards ceremony. Later, while watching the stream via the Watch ABC app on the iPad, the stream once again got switched, this time to the movie The Social Network. This happened three times, all during commercial breaks. Along with the wrong feeds, I also got error messages during playback on the iPad of “An error has occurred during playback” and “Unable to retrieve content. Please try again in a few minutes.” In addition, the stream on the PC was very pixelated, froze on me multiple times and looked to be encoded at a low bitrate.
Those who tried to watch the stream last year, might remember that ABC had even bigger technical problems when the live streams went down altogether nationwide. ABC claimed it was “due to a traffic overload/greater than expected”, but that wasn’t the case at in. Last year, the problem was as a result of the signal acquisition software (Uplynk) at Verizon not spinning up properly on Amazon’s Web Services platform. I don’t know what ABC is going to say the problem was this year, but I suggest they don’t try the “too much traffic” excuse again, especially considering viewers had to authenticate with a cable subscription in order to even get the main awards stream. The volume of viewers didn’t create the technical issues in 2014 or this year.
Doing a live webcast isn’t rocket science, yet we still continue to see companies like ABC and others have major problems. Live broadcasting over the Internet has been taking place for twenty years now, yet broadcasters and content owners are still having massive failures. There is no excuse for it.