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A Very Sad day for Australian Media Center users – sold to Reeltime

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An announcement was made today that the hugely popular community site has been sold to Reeltime TV – who will take over the running and moderation of the site (see this press release).

The owner/founder of this site Michael Hancock (a Media Center MVP) has been given shares/equity in Reeltime as part of the deal (and I really do hope he does well out of this – as he’s put so much of his life and finances into this over the past few years).

Although this announcement took me by surprise – it was unfortunately something that was pretty inevitable for a while. The situation being faced by Mike was that there was minimal advertising and donations coming in – and no external financial support from the companies that were benefiting from the existence of his site (Microsoft, IceTv to name a couple).  So for the most part – Mike was running this site out of his own pocket – and these costs were increasing rapidly as the popularity of the site soared (and greater bandwidth and server side grunt was required).

This was a crazy situation (that I personally echoed to Microsoft on a couple of occasions at least) – as the amount of tech support being handled by this site (for their Product) would have saved them so much more $$$ – than it would ever have cost to contribute financially to the running costs of the site. The ‘goodwill’ factor and viral advertising generated for the Windows MediaCenter product from this site was also immense – and in most cases allowed users to actually use this product – whereas "out of the box" many vital things like EPG’s didn’t work in Australia.

What’s equally sad is that this site was also built and kept alive (in content) – by the amazing community spirit and ‘pass it forward’ mentality of giving advice and help. If only a small % who contributed and benefited from this site had made $$ donations (the membership base was over 30,000+) – then this situation might have easily been averted.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen (going forward) to this site – and the core users have already expressed very mixed feelings about whether they will continue to support the site in future or not.

The troubling thing is that while I believe Reeltime TV intends to have some sort of presence with Media Center users + technology (I don’t think they have any addins as yet accessible from within the Media Center UI) – I think they are also focused on a number of other competing platforms and target audiences. (all their current offerings are not focused at MediaCenter users). So I wonder if this will be reflected in how the site evolves (and if it will evolve away from being a MediaCenter focused site). We have seen this happen recently with the revamped MediaCenter Show on TPN (not Ian’s podcast) – and the last few episodes I checked out had very little relevance to MediaCenter users.

Anyhow I’d really like to wish Mike all the best of luck for the future – and say to say a big THANK YOU for all the tireless and thankless effort + work you have put in. I totally get your position and what you have done (and I’m sure most of us would have done the same faced with your situation).

I’d also like to again reiterate how vitally important it is for people in the enthusiast community to support the people who run these sites and write tools/addins/software you use – not just by involvement – but making those small financial contributions when they are needed. (and I’m sure no-one wants to see the green button being sold to some non Media Center focused company like SageTV or Apple….)


Written by mobilewares

September 28, 2007 at 6:14 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

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