Column: Internet-Only TV Test Stumbles Out of the Starting Gate

Oct 19, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Keith Olbermann let me down.
In my first 24 hours without traditional TV programming the one show I watch daily on Apple TV was nowhere to be found. I’m talking about MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” the very show I trumpeted in last week’s column as being the easiest to watch on my Apple TV.


“Countdown With Keith Olbermann”

Let me explain. Last week I asked readers to vote on whether I should give up television programming, both over-the-air and via cable, in favor of broadband-powered video. The point of the vote was to learn how easy or hard it is to watch television programming only online.
With the vote tracking nearly two-thirds in favoring of ditching my cable service, I pulled the plug and began the great Internet-only test.
The biggest hurdle came at the moment that hurt the most.
It was the day of the final presidential debate, Oct. 15. What I was looking forward to most was not so much the bout itself, but the post-debate analysis from Mr. Olbermann.
This was a particularly important moment for my cord-cutting lifestyle because some TVWeek readers asked how I would get my election news if I went TV-free. I wanted to prove that one can still be an informed citizen without traditional television. (The good news is I am still capable of reading, so I have been able to follow the news thanks to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico.com and other sources.) Let’s not forget that many TV news networks also offer their shows and news reports live and on-demand on their Web sites.
So I checked out 20 minutes of the final debate on MSNBC.com, then on Hulu. Both sites streamed the video immediately and I found seeing the presidential candidates on a smaller screen to be a more enjoyable viewing experience. (Do we really need to see 52 inches of John McCain or Barack Obama anyway?)
About two hours after the debate ended, I turned on Apple TV and scrolled through the front page of the iTunes store looking for “Countdown.” But that night’s episode hadn’t posted yet. The show usually airs at 8 p.m. ET and posts on iTunes about an hour later. I was searching for the show after the time it was slated to be delivered, even taking into account the time difference and the later airing of the show due to the debate.
So I did what any decent Internet fanatic would do. I restarted the Apple TV. I rebooted iTunes. And I hit the refresh button EVERY SECOND for the NEXT TWO HOURS! And each time I did, the same sad thing happened on Apple TV, my PC and my husband’s Mac: No Oct. 15 edition appeared.
My husband and I even scoured MSNBC.com, figuring as a last resort we could watch on a computer, even though we’d rather have watched on the Apple TV. No luck.
“There’s always ‘The Daily Show,’” I offered and then clicked over to TheDailyShow.com for some laughs.
It wasn’t until about 11:15 p.m. PT that “Countdown” finally appeared on MSNBC.com. I watched half of the show on the computer and then placed a call to MSNBC the next morning asking for an explanation for the missing iTunes feed.
After looking into the matter, network spokeswoman Alana Russo told me, “There was a one-time production error in delivering the show to iTunes.”
Mr. Olbermann, if you read this, please don’t let this happen again! You don’t want me to start tuning in to Bill O’Reilly to get my news, do you?
Week One Without TV: I give the Internet a B- as a TV replacement.


  1. Internet, don’t fail Daisy. You’ll be sorry.

  2. I love that it’s nothing for you to call up MSNBC to fulfill your WTF (or to call ABC just to find out if the hot guy is going to be reappearing on Grey’s). 🙂

  3. Hi Daisy,
    I agree that the debate on the small screen was way better than on TV. Watching a debate (or anything political is, for me, more of a lean-forward activity anyway, so watching/hearing it streamed on Hulu as I googled and tweeted made more sense, and without me having to look back and forth at the TV!

  4. I wonder if getting news or entertainment from the net is really any different that using your TV…you may have to search for the story…can anyone watch Olbermann and thinks that’s the story…can anyone just watch O’Reilly and agree with all that…they both make me think there is no more news, it’s all opinion from a specific point of view…I guess that’s what remotes are made for, to switch between them all and try to sift through the nonsense
    BUT…I think giving it a few more days/weeks leaning how and where to find some excellent sources and you’ll have it licked…not that you’d actually want to lick it but that’s another story:)
    …/me now off humming “Kill Your Television” by Neds Atomic Dustbin

  5. Countdown With Keith Olbermann is the show you never miss? Go right to moveon.org or dnc.com if you want the talking points. I thought this website was non partisan. I am done with this website and daily e-mail.

  6. Hi Daisy,
    I pulled the plug back in July after countless problems with my cable provider. I thought I was going to have Directv by August, but I have been able to survive so far. I plugged an old laptop to my TV and bought an HDTV antenna (over the air – the picture quality is 10 times better than my HDTV cable feed used to be). I also have Netflix and have been using their instant play almost daily.
    I say ‘survive’ because I still miss my DVR and the fact that I could use fast forward in recorded shows. I also miss HBO and Showtime – but I don’t mind waiting a bit to catch up to the shows on Netflix… In terms of programming, I feel like I have been able to watch everything that I wanted to. I watched the debate on Hulu, on another computer and was able to multitask. I did not miss the commentaries.
    I thought that I was not going to be able to ‘survive’ for more than a month, but I’m happy that I can. I like Directv a lot, but I would like to have more options and more flexibility regarding the packages. I hope I can survive a lot longer. Maybe sometime in the future, they will have a package that makes sense to me.

  7. I agree with Rob P on this one!
    Countdown With Keith Olbermann is the show you never miss? Go right to moveon.org or dnc.com if you want the talking points. I thought this website was non partisan. I am done with this website and daily e-mail.

  8. Something tells me MSNBC will make sure it truly was a one-time problem now that they know Daisy is on alert.
    The Olbermann download problem aside, I wonder if you feel going cable-free is more work or just a change in effort?

  9. wow Dave and Rob P… you guys seem to be totally missing the point of the article, not to start a flame war but its likely this wont be read anyway if you truly gave up the site
    however the point is more to say this specific show she trusts for information isn’t being made available int he timely manner she had been accustomed to in the past. Its just like trying to watch a show on tv is time slot suddenly changes without warning. In this case the time the episode was posted online changed.
    least i hope thats a valid summarization.

  10. Hi William: You got the summary right! and yes the point of the column — it’s a column, not an article — is to discuss whether it’s hard or easy to watch cable programming without cable service. Since I’m actively trying this I can only use the examples of shows I watch. Thanks for reading William!
    Corey: Yes it’s more effort, but it’s kind of fun too!
    Rob and Dave: Best of luck! There are lots of great sites and news resources on and offline.

  11. You get your election news from watching the over the top rantings of a second rate sportscaster? No wonder you decided to try watching TV over a computer. Says a lot about your thought process. Or lack there of.
    Hell, did you really need to give up cable to figure out how difficult, not to mention pointless, it is to get reliable programming over the Internet? Never mind the fact it’s almost impossible to zap the ads on the Internet feeds. Wake up. Sheesh.

  12. Daisy, Bill-O does not equal news.
    You should know that.

  13. Daisy, girl. Another family to pull the plug! Go visit my blog today – I referenced this column.

  14. i reckon your like that cooking host in last weeks californication

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