“One of the largest online single events in the history of the Internet,” turned into a news story about how it didn’t happen. Almost anything Oprah Winfrey touches is a success, except online. At least on her first try. Oprah’s first and much-hyped web debut crashed a few minutes after it started.
Her apology is in the news today, and made me wonder if it’s the first time Oprah has been mentioned in Information Week (and Marketing Pilgrim for that matter). A quick search confirms that there are two firsts.
More than 700,000 people registered for Winfrey’s 10-week Web 90 minute seminar with author Eckhart Tolle and his bestselling “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” The book was the latest pick of Oprah’s Book Club. And once they iron out the technical issues imagine what webcasts with the book authors will do for the already strong sales of Oprah’s Book Club picks.
What happened when over 500,000 viewers went online to watch the event? The servers crashed. Oprah apologized to her fans on Oprah.com. Fans had already gone to the site’s message boards to express their feelings. One fan called the crash “heartbreaking.” That’s another first, calling a crashed webcast heartbreaking.
There is time to get it straightened out. There are 9 more live webcasts scheduled. The show is posted now on Oprah.com and it’s also on iTunes. I bet it gets a lot of downloads – like the book, this is probably going to capture a much wider audience than it would’ve without the famous crash.
This brings back memories of another famous crash online. In 1999, 1.5 million people were disappointed when a Webcast of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York City crashed.
Update: Lack of bandwidth or number of people online wasn’t the problem that crashed the server, it was a coding error. This week’s show should be glitch-free.