Way to fail – the launch of Tellylinks

I wrote yesterday about my feelings on the launch of Tellylinks last night on Five in the UK. A new service that due to some high-profile founders had gained a reasonable (if untargetted) press coverage in the UK yesterday. I did have concerns that I discussed here, but nothing could have led me to expect the fail whale that was their high-profile launch night.

You launch on a terrestrial TV channel – and your site crashes, no one can log on! Trouble is, this was just really the final nail in a pretty poor day for the fledgling company.

Twitter – when you see that a company only has 24 followers on launch day when realistically this should have been the main target audience, you know you have problems. No background, the logo in as an avatar (and it didn’t fit so you saw one letter!) and no real strategy in place for gaining users. What should have been one of their main routes for building up WOM was ignored, and their lack of response to questions during the issues was unforgivable.

Site Design – its awful to be honest. I know that design is objective, but it looked very dated, very simple (and not in a good way) and wasnt engaging at all. It looked like it could have been done with a basic website builder, there was no effort to try and establish a brand or give the site any kind of identity.

Creative – The bumper creative was also disappointing and very dated – this slick animation style was much in vogue around a decade ago, but the Kandi nightclubs have really owned it in the UK recently. It got across that you watched a TV program and a list of links came up – but the tag line “you think it, we link it” does not really capture the essence of what the service is. Whilst I was watching Numbers I was thinking, what’s on the other side….

Hosting – your site can’t crash on the first night, period! Whoever was in charge of stress/load testing needs to be lined up against a wall this morning – there really is no excuse for it. Tellylinks are claiming this morning that it was due to the vast demand – hold on, you want me to believe that from sponsorship bumpers on a Five show at 10pm on a Wednesday night generated so much traffic it crashed the site?? Not sure anyone is going to buy that – unless your expectations were so low and your stress/load testing so minimal – that again someone needs to be lined up against the wall.

Response – last night for the majority of the night there was silence from the official twitter feed. Until the classic “anyone fancy some online chess…” ok, they have a sense of humour. But as you can see here there was already a stream of negative WOM forming, they should have jumped straight on this and explained what was going on. I’ve contacted them direct a couple of times for comments/explanations – but not even had an acknowledgment let alone a proper response.

The morning after – the holding site that was there yesterday is now down, and in its place is a simple white background with the following text showing:

Thank you for trying TellyLinks.com.
In light of the unexpected high volume of traffic to TellyLinks.com during its launch this evening, we would like to apologise to anyone who may have experienced technical difficulties in accessing the service.
We are overwhelmed by the level of viewer response and have already started to scale up our systems to ensure that everyone who logs on to TellyLinks.com in future will gain the full benefit of the service.

I still believe that what Tellylinks is trying to achieve is a sound concept, the embedding of interactive services into a broadcast stream makes perfect sense and I have no doubt will be achieved within the next year. But the execution here was poor on nearly every level, and the state of the site this morning does not bode well for the future of the venture in my opinion.

The key question for me yesterday has not been answered though – how does the ‘editorial search’ work in practise? When I sit and watch a program how relevant are the links they are serving me? That’s the key – I will go back and try again and if the answers are positive to these questions then perhaps they have a foundation to build on – if not, I think a lot of people will be saying “I’m Out”

Social integration with TV will happen, but it will happen when we have the ability to interact on our television – so it becomes a true part of the viewing experience. With TV widgets already being used by early adopters, and soon to become mainstream – you have to question why Tellylinks did not hold back and invest in technology for the future, instead of using technology from the past.

I said yesterday that what they were trying to achieve could be done with a simple twitter API – and I still stand by that, in fact I think I may well do it to prove the point! I guess if you’re going to fail, do it in style!

3 thoughts on “Way to fail – the launch of Tellylinks

  1. Pretty much summed it up for me. I’ve built sites that handle more traffic than tellylinks would ever dream of. It’s not rocket science but it’s probably beyond the skills of your nephews girlfriends brother hosting a web site on the back of his talktalk adsl connection

  2. Just thought I would add that when launching a high profile web site it is essential to register all variants of the domain name and TLD combinations.

    Couldn’t believe that tellylinks.net was registered yesterday by a cybersquatter.

  3. Pingback: Related news roundup - 12 Feb | The (unofficial) Project Canvas blog | IPTV, VOD, internet TV in the UK

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