Rod Donald Funeral Rivals Election In Net Ratings
By Scoop Co-editor Alastair Thompson
Television New Zealand may be regretting its decision not to broadcast Rod Donald's funeral live on free-to-air television after its interactive services division struggled to cope with massive demand from the public to view the funeral via an online stream. At the event itself several thousand Christchurch locals turned up to listen to the service outside Christchurch Cathedral on loud speakers.
The online stream was made available from the TVNZ website and promoted on the front page of the TVNZ and Scoop websites. A recorded version of the funeral will be available to view shortly at THIS URL [ http://www.tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411368/625891]
The decision not to broadcast the funeral live on free-to-air television was taken by acting TVNZ head of news Stephen Rowe in consultation with TVNZ's programming department. TVNZ's head of news Bill Ralston is presently away in Amsterdam at an industry conference.
Mr Rowe told Scoop the decision not to broadcast the funeral live on TV - as they did for the commemorative service for David Lange - was made partly because they wanted to see how such a broadcast would go over the internet. Mr Rowe said there would be extensive coverage of the funeral on this evening's news.
As the event was not televised TVNZ did not use a full outside broadcast unit to produce the online stream, instead using a simpler configuration of three cameras working via a links truck to the Internet.
On TVNZ's Channel One, instead of Rod Donald's funeral, during the period of the funeral viewers were treated to the final half hour of Good Morning followed by an episode of the quintessential daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. On TV2 during the funeral the state broadcaster was playing infomercials.
Shortly after the broadcast started at 10.30am the high level of demand became obvious to TVNZ Interactive network staff who called in the support of Wellington based streaming video provider www.r2.co.nz to share the load. However even then the stream struggled to cope with demand.
TVNZ Interactive's Ian Cogill told Scoop the peak load for the streaming video was a little over 500 simultaneous streams. Over the entire course of the nearly two hour broadcast total numbers viewing are likely to have been in the 1000s. Mr Cogill said the level of interest was broadly comparable to that of election night.
Meanwhile it is unclear how many people were unable to connect to TVNZ's streaming video.