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.
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.