BuzzFeed’s Obama Interview on Facebook Live Winks Out Before President Takes Seat

Barack Obama - BuzzFeed Facebook Live
Via BuzzFeed/YouTube

BuzzFeed’s interview with President Obama on Monday — which the media company had touted as the first interview with the president on Facebook Live — cut out on Facebook before the commander in chief had even taken his seat.

From its Facebook page, BuzzFeed pointed users to the live interview on YouTube, where the half-hour conversation was broadcast in full. That was after the Facebook Live feed dropped out less than two minutes into the live stream.

The interview was conducted live from the White House’s Roosevelt Room by BuzzFeed News legal editor Chris Geidner, starting at 2:50 p.m. Eastern. In the interview, Obama discussed his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

Reps for BuzzFeed and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the glitch.

After the Obama interview was over, BuzzFeed posted the interview at a new link on Facebook (labeling it “live” although the video at that point was prerecorded).

Facebook has been actively courting media companies, celebrities and sports leagues to take advantage of its live-streaming Facebook Live platform, as the No. 1 social service looks to drive more engagement and usage from among its global monthly user base of 1.6 billion people.

BuzzFeed last month used Facebook Live to broadcast video of staffers exploding a watermelon using rubber bands. That drew over 800,000 concurrent viewers and has generated more than 10 million views overall, which BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti boasted was “the first time we’ve had a number that’s comparable to TV.” However, TV ratings are reported on the basis of average audience per minute, so the video was not comparable in terms of audience (never mind the fact that BuzzFeed did not have any advertising in the live video to make money on the stunt).

The technical difficulties BuzzFeed experienced with Facebook Live on the Obama interview indicate that Facebook is still ironing out the process of bringing live-streaming video to users, as it also continues to explore ways to let partners monetize those broadcasts.

In the BuzzFeed interview, Obama defended his choice of Garland for the Supreme Court seat left open after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, arguing that Republicans should not “politicize” the pick in an election year when even members of the GOP have questioned the qualifications of the party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. “It seems to me (Republicans would) be better off going ahead and giving a hearing and a vote to somebody that they themselves in the past have said is well-qualified, is fair, and to treat the Supreme Court with the seriousness and the sense that it’s beyond politics, that it deserves,” Obama said.

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