The Ticket

Stewart-O’Reilly debate livestream fails for many

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"We'll do it live," Bill O'Reilly once said during an infamous off-air meltdown.

On Saturday, O'Reilly and Jon Stewart did it live, during a debate--dubbed "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium"--at the Lisner Auditorium on the Washington, D.C., campus of George Washington University. But thousands of online viewers--who each paid $4.95 to see the ideological duel between the Fox News and "Daily Show" hosts--were unable to stream the event live.

Roger Ebert was apparently one of them.

"I promote Stewart vs. O'Reilly on Roku on [Facebook] and Twitter and can't log in myself," Ebert tweeted. "Bad image for Roku. #therumble2012"

The actor Zach Braff was another.

"I can't login to the Stewart debate," Braff wrote on Twitter. "Anyone else?"

There were plenty who shared Braff's frustration.

"You and everyone else," editor Michael Ausiello replied in a tweet. "What a disaster."

"Wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars #therumble2012 is leaving on the table right now because they screwed up tech," Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple wrote on Twitter. "The only [rumble] I'm having is with my computer. "

"REALLY disappointed in the epic fail of The Rumble livestreaming," user Mary Solecki tweeted. "90 minutes after start of event and I still can't watch."

The organizers of the debate eventually apologized, noting that the stream would be available on-demand.

"Due [to] overwhelming demand, our servers have been overloaded," @TheRumble2012 tweeted. "We apologize for any inconvenience and we're working to resolve the issue. If you missed any of the debate, it will be available on-demand shortly after."

For some customers, though, the apology was too little, too late.

"Vote now to rename #TheRumble2012 The Crumble, The Fumble or The Bumble," Dona Oxford tweeted.

"Rumble 2012: A Livestreaming Failure," declared.

"Life lesson," Jeff Jarvis wrote on Twitter. "Pay wall = customer service."

Others opted for unauthorized streams. "I'm stealing #therumble2012 because their site imploded," Brian Huisman wrote. "Piracy certainly greases the wheels of culture.Piracy certainly greases the wheels of culture."

"No one can log in or watch, customer service is frozen as is the server," Danny Manus tweeted. "I WANT MY MONEY BACK!"

As bad as it the livestream was, several Twitter users said they would not demand the streaming fee back--at least the part that was for charity.

"Horribly done guys," Howard Flaschen wrote. "Refund the half that's not going to charity."

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