On Saturday, October 5, 2013, an audience of 257,294 in 21 lands attended the 129th annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania either in person or via a live webcast. Later that weekend, additional Witnesses viewed a replay of the program. The total attendance was 1,413,676 in 31 lands. This year’s meeting proved to be the largest gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses yet, surpassing the 1,327,704 who viewed a special program held in Mexico and Central America on April 28, 2013.
Starting in the 1920’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses broadcast their conventions to international audiences using telephone lines along with vast radio networks. Now, Internet technology allows attendees even in remote locations both to hear and see events either as they happen or soon afterward. William, who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, attended a convention in Richmond, Virginia, in 1942 and listened to the program over a telephone tie-in. Comparing that experience with this year’s annual meeting presentation, he says: “You get so much more from the program when you can see it. There is really no comparison.”
Members of several branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses worked for over a year setting up the webcast, devoting many thousands of hours in the process. On the weekend of the webcast, technicians monitored the program from a control center in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed on duty around the clock as it was shown at venues in 15 time zones. Ryan, who helped set up and keep watch over the webcast, said, “We lost sleep, but knowing how many more were able to benefit from the program made it all worthwhile.”