ADV on the Right Path with Online Streaming Service

I’ve had a running theme with this blog over how disgusted I am with anime fans who only watch illegal downloads, and how I wish anime companies would look for a more creative way of reaching out to this market. So when ADV quietly announced their new Anime Network online streaming video service, I thought it was best news to come from the industry since the launch of the Tokyopop’s “Authentic Manga” line.

I’ve been enjoying the service for about a month now, and last week sent out an honest email to ADV on how I think the company can improve on it:

Great service you’re offering. Since I do not have cable service at my house, and since I only use a Mac computer, my choices are very limited when it comes to viewing TV content legally over the internet. I rely heavily on NBC’s and the Adult Swim Fix streaming service. As a devoted anime fan, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you’re offering a similar service.

Based on my experience with these other services, here are the things I notice are missing from your service. I feel that these are huge problems that can dissatisfy the user and drive him away forever. They should be fixed ASAP.

1) You need a full screen mode. Keep all the ads in, but if you’re going for a market of people used to watching anime on their computer, no one wants to be restricted to such a small part of their screen.

2) Episode needs to auto-play after commercial break. The user starts the episode and then sits back to enjoy it. Can you imagine how annoyed they get when they have to get up half-way through the episode to click on the “play” button again? Makes us even more pissed off about ads… (-_-)…

Now here is the long-term fix that you should implement on the next version of your player:

3) Dub and subtitle support! Like a DVD, your flash animation should incorporate a video stream, two language tracks (English and Japanese), and a subtitle overlay. This would put you far above what normal fansubs can offer, and win over so much more of the market you’re aiming for.

Again, I love the service you are offering, and I think it could be highly successful if you fix these problems I’ve noticed with it.

Days after I sent this email, ADV makes a huge announcement of a relaunch of the service with the promise to make brand-new shows available for free. They’re using the newest Studio Gainax show, Gurren-Lagann, as their flagship title.

So how much does this relaunch improve on the first iteration of the service? Well, in my email, I suggested two easy fixes and one slightly more difficult fix. Did they fix them?

Easy fix #1 – Nope, there is still no full screen mode.
Easy fix #2- Nope, you still gotta manually press “play” again
Difficult fix #3- Actually, yes! Sort of…

Gurren-Lagann is subtitled, but the crazy thing is that it’s soft-subtitle! That means that the user has the option of turning the subtitles on or off via a button in the control panel. This is a unique function that you don’t normally find in flash video players or even in most fansubs. But this is the kind of innovation that can pursued the illegal download to switch over to legit methods.

There is currently no dual-audio support for Lagann, but I’m sure that is because it has not been fully dubbed yet. The subtitling proves that someone over at ADV has the ability to create a flash video player that’s not just another Youtube clone. I can only hope that we start seeing some dual audio content pop up on the service very soon.

So kudos to ADV for sticking to their streaming service and finally bringing some innovation to the industry. There are still some easy fixes that should be made as soon as possible, but they are still on the right path to success anyway. I hope to anime fans embrace this new service so that more advancements can be to this wonderful medium.

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