Last year (2000) I put up a page to collect names of people who wanted to see Family Guy released on DVD. Family Guy is one of my favorite shows and I knew that if I could get enough names FOX would put it out on DVD. After a few months I had collected close to 200 names of people who would buy the show on DVD, but I didn't know what to do next.
In early 2001 I came across a thread on the Home Theater Forum about releasing another show on DVD. I read these people's posts and thought it was a shame that nothing would come of it, much like my Family Guy page. Then a week later another thread for another show popped up and I started thinking that maybe I should consider putting up a site to collect the names of people that wanted to see shows on DVD and provide the studios with the information. If they could only see how many people wanted these shows they'd be sure to release them. In late January I started planning the site and registered the domain.
At first the site would be a list of shows and people would select the ones they wanted to see. Then I thought I should let the users tell the studios how they'd like to buy them. I decided that I should list the DVDs that had come out for a show, then why not allow users to add reviews and links to fan sites for shows. It seemed like project grew larger and larger every time I sat down to work on it.
As I worked on the site I started to notice more and more people wanted to see their favorite show on DVD. It seemed like every time I visited the Home Theater Forum someone had started a new thread for a new show. One day I logged in and found a thread titled "TV shows wanted on DVD" started by Kyle McKnight. Right now that thread has close to 300 posts. Pretty amazing. Kyle's thread gave me the energy to keep plugging away on the site knowing that people would use it. Thanks Kyle!
In late September I posted to the HTF asking for beta testers. Roughly 10 beta testers went through the site making suggestions and finding bugs. I tell ya, those people really pulled through. They gave me some excellent suggestions as to how the site could be improved. I think it would be a different place if they hadn't have taken a look at the site.
It's the end of October now and I'm launching the site on Thursday, November 1st. I'm really excited and a little scared at the same time. It's been fun working on the site these past months, but what if the whole thing dies when I get a bunch of users?
Wow, how time flies. Today was the site's 6 month birthday (May 1, 2002)! Looking back at what I wrote 6 months ago it's hard to believe how much has happened.
Might as well start with the bad stuff. As I feared, the site crashed. Ohh....did it ever crash. It turns out a had a wee little bit of bad code on the site that kept bringing down the server. I came home one day to an email notifying me that my account had been disabled and the site was taken offline. A quick phone call, and 2 hours changing code, and the site was back online. No problems since then (phew!).
Now the good news. In the past 6 months the site has grown more than I could have hoped. The database of TV show releases is the largest I'm aware of. Here's a list with the number of TV releases found on e-tailer sites:
Also, keep in mind that the e-tailers above list TV movies in their TV categories; we only list TV series, mini-series and the occasional TV movie (only if it's based on a TV series).
I was very lucky to snag David Lambert to review DVDs for the site. If you're a member of the Home Theater Forum you've undoubtedly read some of David's posts. He's a very smart man that knows a whole lot about TV shows and I'm glad to have his reviews posted here.
These past 6 months have garnered a few articles in publications as well. Liane Faulder, a TV critic with the Edmonton Journal, did the first piece (Edmonton Journal - Feb 26, 2002) which focused on my TV watching habits and the website. Shortly after that I was contacted by David Bianculli with the New York Daily News. David and I had a hard time connecting because his email server kept going up and down. I finally heard back from him the day before his article was going to be printed. A quick phone call and all was done. It was a very excellent article. Some of our information was also used in a USA Today article, unfortunately the interview I gave wasn't included. I have another interview lined up for tomorrow, but we may have to keep that news for the next update.
The biggest news from the past 6 months is something that has happened quite recently. I have entered into a partnership with Dry Grass Partners to explore cult TV shows to release on DVD. We're going to be using the votes on this site as well as message board activity and fan websites to gauge interest in TV shows. Dry Grass Productions was a driving force behind the "My So-Called Life" DVD set which is being sold online through AnotherUniverse.com. I'm excited about the possibilities this partnership will bring, and I think it's an excellent way to get shows released that wouldn't necessarily stand a chance at retail.
Although these past 6 months have been great for the site I believe the best is yet to come...