Millions attended Whitney Houston's funeral and listened to "I will always love you" as her body left the church. After Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros was killed covering a Libyan uprising, thousands attended his memorial service. The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin exited stage left in front of millions all around the world in a four-day funeral extravaganza. The thing each of these funerals shares? The majority of the audience at each attended them VIRTUALLY. In Aretha's case, the church had set up a huge screen to Livestream the service at a local gas station parking lot for her local community.
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have also made us much more comfortable with sharing intimate details about ourselves online. Many deaths and funerals are reported, commented on, tweeted, recorded and posted online already.
The advantages of streaming are also a form of family memorial that can be preserved as a recording as part of a family's oral history. It's an archive for future unborn generations. For sudden deaths or pandemics, as we are currently experiencing, streaming can also foster a communal mourning experience, in digital form. This also holds true for serious immigration issues, something we are also experiencing a lot of today. Being Irish, I know of many many illegal Irish immigrants all over the world who cannot fly home so easily for weddings and funerals. Webcasting or streaming allows them to be there in spirit but also virtually
A celebrity memorial service can be one of the most-watched events in online streaming history. 2.5 billion tuned in to the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana. Nielsen Media Research said that Michael Jackson’s two-hour memorial in Los Angeles was carried live by 18 U.S. television networks and cable channels, drawing a US audience of 31.1 million.