Reeltime.com is a site offering video-on-demand of diverse television programs and eventually movies. Its apparently pre-launch and content is still being added, but in fact the site has been around since 2004.
What’s Reeltime All About?
Reeltime.com (not to be confused with ‘reel-time.com’, an online resource for saltwater flyfishers) has a confusing home page at first glance and my initial reaction was, “What on earth does this site broadcast?”
Generic images flicker on the site, such as a family, some elephants, a sunset, a mountain? Initially I was wondering if this was a place for streaming video or was it just a generic clip-art site?
5 Years in Pre-Launch?
According to Wikipedia (and a citation is needed here) the site launched in 2004. Yet now in 2009 a ‘pre-launch’ notice is apparent on the ReelTime site.
According to a review on KillerStartups from 2007 it appeared that ReelTime was focusing on movie rental, including HD movies, but that focus seems to have changed since.
This makes me wonder if the site is ever going to officially launch. It’s typical for innovative start-ups to jump around with ideas and try different things, but after 5 years it still seems that ReelTime still has not found its footing, as the rest of this review will highlight.
Its also no surprise that the company has yet to turn a profit.
Navigation and Getting Started
The main page lists out a number of different “channels” with different topics, so to get started, I clicked on “1 ACTV”, which was arts and culture. This routed me to a list of interesting episode titles such as “ballroom dance healing”(?) and “Healing harp”(??).
Reeltime requires a registration before you can start viewing the videos, which I got through pretty quickly, and once you’ve completed this step and received your user confirmation email, you can begin viewing programs.
Channels Offered from Reeltime
I selected the option to view a program called “Trees Made of Glass” (if, for no other reason than the cool sounding title) and was routed to a page prompting for a Microsoft Silverlight plugin, which I installed fairly quickly through a link on Reeltime.
As far as browsers needed for Reeltime, I usually drive on Firefox, and this browser is supported, as well as IE and Safari. Windows and Mac 10 are also supported.
Some Technical Issues…
Once the Silverlight install completed, Reeltime told me:
Now, as an aside, I’m a software Quality Assurance Analyst full time, and nothing bothers me more than unearthing bugs on sites on which I don’t get paid to unearth them, especially if I’m NOT running a beta of a product, but an actual site.
However, clicking the, ahem, “1″ pop-up, cleared the message and I was on my way to learning about “glass trees”. The reeltime player worked fine, and offered a number of typical features like a full screen option, navigation buttons, and even a link for sharing the video clip.
Other Channel Offerings on Reeltime
My attention only being held so long, I decided to pop back to the main page to see what else Reeltime had to offer. Here are some samplings of what I found on the main channel map:
- FTV – “Food Television”, with programs such as “Church Pie Ladies” and “Chinese Feast”
- LTV – “Laugh Television”, featuring one program, “Speedy”(?)
- RSFTV – “Reel Sci-Fi Television”, featuring one program, “The British UFO Files” (no Doctor Who?)
- RLTV – “Reel Legal Television”, featuring “The Jaundiced Eye” (why have I never heard of some of these)
One of the channels, RTV-”Romance Television”, didn’t have any offerings, as well as some of the other channels, giving me the impression that this is a fairly new system and is still getting it’s footing.
Thoughts About the Programming
This looks and feels a lot like PBS broadcasts, or the type of programming you’d find on public television on any given day. Not overly thrilling material if you, like me, were weened on programs featuring cinematic space battles, evil aliens and robots.
Another thing that seemed strange to me was that the episodes I sampled capped off at about 2 1/2 minutes, with no continuation. Should there have been a ‘next’ button, or was that it, and shouldn’t the video have had a text message indicated something about the fact that I was only watching a trial? The few programs I caught, while not exciting, just ended after a couple minutes with no sense of completion. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on with this site.
Reeltime Store for Reeltime Items
Reeltime’s main page also links to a Reelstore where you can purchase things like hats, books, and health products, but much like the video selection, many of the departments are completely empty, such as the “Reel History Department”, which opens an empty folder stating “This department is currently empty. Please check back soon for new Products…” This site, and it’s store, could really benefit from a more robust inventory.
Premium Content with Reelclub
Reeltime also has a section for a reelclub that you can join. The offer includes discounts on merchandise from the stores, as well as a 10% discount on pay-per-view movies. What’s puzzling to me is that, all I can find on this site are television episodes. What movie’s is this talking about?
Apparently the site is in pre-launch, so it’s understandable if the site is missing some content or clarity, but it would have been appreciated if prior to putting this site online the folks at Reeltime had given a little more information about what this site is supposed to be about and when it will be offering full episodes of programs online.
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