INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Madonna Web cast a flop, some claim

LONDON: Microsoft's much-vaunted Web cast of a rare UK Madonna performance drew plenty of positive press coverage. But it also took plenty of darts as frustrated Web surfers, and at least a few reporters, failed to make the connection.

LONDON: Microsoft's much-vaunted Web cast of a rare UK Madonna performance drew plenty of positive press coverage. But it also took plenty of darts as frustrated Web surfers, and at least a few reporters, failed to make the connection.

LONDON: Microsoft's much-vaunted Web cast of a rare UK Madonna performance drew plenty of positive press coverage. But it also took plenty of darts as frustrated Web surfers, and at least a few reporters, failed to make the connection.

Instead, many found themselves staring at the message 'Server too Busy,' or, at best, teased by still images of the pop diva alongside the text 'your virtual front row seat.'

A headline in the British newspaper The Times reflected the would-be viewers' frustration: 'Web Front Row Seat Offers a View of Nothing.' But a source close to Microsoft called it 'a reflection on the success of the launch that, because nine million people logged on, others couldn't get in.'

Despite the problems, the event was an Internet milestone. A record number of Web surfers from around the world joined the in-situ crowd of 2,800 that had paid thousands to see the performance.

The previous record for a Web cast, also held by Microsoft, was the three million who logged on to see Paul McCartney play Liverpool's legendary Cavern club, where the Beatles got their first break.

Microsoft, which is said to have spent up to dollars 42.5 million promoting the Madonna event in 17 languages, had anticipated that the publicity campaign would reach 210 million potential users.

Madonna, who received no fee from the software giant, is said to have turned down television broadcast deals worth tens of millions.



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