Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Devil Is in2tv's Details

Today is the official launch of AOL's in2tv. AOL made the beta version available over the last week, but not much really changed.

I've given the service a test drive. Not bad for a first effort, but there is definitely room for improvement. Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Many people complain about the ads and all the info surrounding the streaming video. All you have to do is click the 'Full Screen' option at the lower right corner of the video player and everything else goes away. That means you only have to watch a 30-second commercial at the beginning of each clip, and that's all the advertising you'll see. If you don't want to watch that single ad, click on the clip you want to watch, go to a different web page for a while in another browser window, and then come back and rewind to the beginning of the show. Problem solved. in2tv doesn't need to be the active window while video is streaming.
  • The service only seems to work with Windows Media Player 10. Hopefully, AOL made this choice for their launch and will improve compatibility.
  • AOL has a full listing of TV shows and eps. The interface can be improved so that all shows appear on a single page with a portion of the page (frame or nodisplay javascript) showing ep titles for the show selected (ala iTunes). But at least they have a listing in alphabetical order that's easy to use. Are you listening Google Video?
  • Of course AOL didn't want to release all their content at the same time; they took a page out of iTunes' book. Release a little bit at a time so people keep coming back. But AOL made some odd choices — non-consecutive eps, different seasons, and partial eps. Partial eps? Well, kind of. Right now in2tv only has one part of a few two-part shows, such as:
    • Snow Way to Treat a Lady (Part 1 of 2) ("Perfect Strangers," 2/18/1987)
    • End Game (Part 2 of 2) ("La Femme Nikita," 8/30/1998)
    • Follow the Leader (Part 2 of 2) ("Welcome Back Kotter," 1/22/1976)
    You can't see how the first show ends, and you don't know how the last two shows begin.
  • AOL needs to provide some context for these eps. From the listing and show page, it's really hard to figure out what you'll be watching. Take a look at a series like La Femme Nikita. Here are the eps currently available on in2tv:
    • Mother (season 1, ep 5; original airdate: 2/9/1997)
    • Darkness Visible (season 2, ep 8; oad: 3/29/1998)
    • Open Heart (season 2, ep 9; oad: 4/5/1998)
    • First Mission (season 2, ep 10; oad: 4/12/1998)
    • Psychic Pilgrim (season 2, ep 11; oad: 4/19/1998)
    • Fuzzy Logic (season 2, ep 15; oad: 7/5/1998)
    • Inside Out (season 2, ep 17; oad: 7/26/1998)
    • End Game (Part 2 of 2) (season 2, ep 22; oad: 8/30/1998)
    • Cat and Mouse (season 3, ep 7; oad: 3/28/1999)
    • Line in the Sand (season 4, ep 14; oad: 7/2/2000)
  • The Pilot Theater Channel was a little disappointing. The channel just had pilots for shows that you could access through individual channels. I was really hoping for a channel that showed unaired pilots for shows that weren't picked-up (ala Lee Goldberg's ABC Special based on his book Unsold Television Pilots).
Happy viewing!

No comments: