Cord Cutters Struggled To Access CNN’s Democratic Debate

By Brian Flood 

CNN’s Democratic debate drew 15.8 million total viewers and has received positive reviews from critics, but not everyone is happy. The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board feels that people “without the means or desire to subscribe to cable or satellite TV services” were the big losers on Tuesday night.

In a grave disservice to the electoral process, CNN limited free viewing of the debate to a live stream on its website. People with increasingly popular Internet-service-only subscriptions to Comcast’s Xfinity and AT&T’s U-verse, for example, were out of luck using the CNNgo app.

Compounding the problem: The free live stream of the debate was prone to freezing, choking, stuttering, repeating itself and refusing to load, all of which prompted thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of angry tweets and Facebook posts.

CNN says that nearly 1 million people were simultaneously streaming the debate when it peaked around 10:20 p.m. ET. The Sacramento Bee suggests that this is further proof that “cord cutting is a real thing.”

This is particularly true among young and affluent “cord nevers,” who are forming households and are happy to stick with Netflix and an Apple TV, along with borrowed passwords for their parents’ cable accounts so they can watch other content in a pinch.

It’s also true among poor people, who can’t afford pricey pay-TV packages or high-speed Internet service, and instead survive on Web access through smartphones and tablets. These are precisely the people who don’t always vote and the people candidates, particularly Democrats, need most. And yet, this time around, CNN didn’t adequately prepare for them.
UPDATE: A CNN spokesperson issued the following statement to TVNewser:
The Sac Bee’s argument is utterly nonsensical. The entire debate streamed live to our homepage and through our apps. Anyone with an Internet connection or mobile device could access it freely.  This is proven by record numbers – over four million live streams with nearly a million users at its peak for extended periods of time.
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