BuzzFeed’s Facebook Live Interview With President Obama Suffers a Bad Streaming Failure

Shines light on YouTube's skills

Headshot of Christopher Heine

BuzzFeed landed the biggest "get" for a Facebook Live interview in the young channel's history by nabbing a sit-down with President Barack Obama. Yet less than two minutes into the broadcast, the online publisher's video feed stalled and some 35,000 Facebook viewers were left with nothing to watch but BuzzFeed legal editor Chris Geidner sitting alone in the White House, introducing the event.

It was awkward, and BuzzFeed actually directed people—on its Facebook post—to YouTube to watch the stream after a while. Indeed, the incident allowed YouTube to flex its live-video muscle—it's been doing these things for years, after all, and Facebook is brand new to the game.

Meanwhile, the Geidner-Obama interview—which was designed to focus on Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland—went well, technically speaking, on YouTube. Fifteen-thousand watched in real time throughout the online appearance by Obama. No glitches. (Scroll to watch the video below.)

It's a little egg on the face for Facebook, which launched Facebook Live in early April and immediately captured the imaginations of video marketers everywhere.

In fact, on April 8, BuzzFeed had a huge success, getting 800,000 people at once to watch two staffers via Facebook Live explode a watermelon by wrapping rubber bands around it.

Today's production wasn't as tight, to say the least.

That said, Facebook's scale—with 1.6 billion monthly users—will keep media companies and marketers glued to the social network to see how other attempts in the near future turn out. In fact, BuzzFeed later replayed the Obama video on Facebook. It was the first time the president appeared on the channel.

Meanwhile, check out the ending to the interview as it appeared on YouTube. Somewhere a TV producer is chuckling.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.