MSN Launch Live Internet Online TV Service For The UK

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PC users across the UK will soon be able to tune into a multitude of TV content courtesy of the new MSN Video Player.

Microsoft has decided that now is the time to join the online TV revolution and is launching a trial version of the MSN Video player within the next week. The player will include streaming TV content including hit tv episodes The young ones, shameless and many other hit shows. MSN have reached a deal to show content from the BBC and All3Media.

The TV service will be freely available to all UK residents and advertising will cover the streaming costs. At launch the service will have over 300 hours of TV streams available.

TV shows will not be shown on MSN's player until the expiry of the online catch up service the broadcasters provides on its own sites. The BBC iPlayer have a catchup service lasting seven days after transmission and Channel 4′s 4oD service is 30 days. Although it is understood that MSN will not show any content until after 180 days of originally airing.

For MSN Video Player's six month pilot phase, the ad space around its programming has been bought by three media agencies: MediaCom, which bought out all the advertising on Channel Five's Demand Five when it relaunched, MindShare and MEC Interaction.

Microsoft UK's managing director of consumer and online, Ashley Highfield, said the company had burnt the midnight oil on the project over the past four months, since Project Kangaroo, the ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 joint venture, was blocked by regulators.

"The hole left by Kangaroo was something that provided a catalyst," said Highfield, the former BBC director of future media and technology who was briefly Project Kangaroo chief executive before moving to Microsoft late last year. "To some degree there is a void left by Kangaroo, there is a gap for an aggregator."

Microsoft is keen to get the six-month MSN Video Player pilot up and running to prove the value of its product before Arqiva and Hulu launch rival broadband TV aggregation services in the UK.

Arqiva, only last week purchased the assets of Project Kangaroo and now has plans for its own TV aggregator service, and US giant Hulu is chomping at the bit to launch in the UK.

Highfield commented:- "We have to ascertain if the audience demand is there. We believe there is demand in the maket for long form video."

Highfield added that the service was "absolutely in the friend camp" with broadcasters' own online TV services. He also said that there were a number of reasons why he believes that Microsoft will make the service a success.

The service according to Highfield will be available to 27 million UK users and is set to launch on other devices such as Xbox and mobile internet enabled devices.

The UK is certainly turning into a battle ground for online TV suppliers. It will be interesting to see who emerges triumphant and who has their off button depressed permanently.

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