Microsoft will launch its MSN Video Player video-on-demand service in the UK next week, offering 300 hours of free shows to viewers – and leaving viewers using current versions of Mac OS X in the cold.
Initial shows available through the beta service next week will include League of Gentlemen, Peep Show, Shameless and The Young Ones.
The project’s led by Ashley Highfield, now VP consumer and online at Microsoft UK and former BBC director of future media and technology.
At the forefront of development of the BBC’s iPlayer service, Highfield joined Microsoft last year after leaving his post as CEO of Project Kangaroo, the video-on-demand joint venture between the BBC, ITV & Channel 4 which was stopped by the Competition Commission.
“The hole left by Kangaroo was something that provided a catalyst,” Highfield said. “To some degree there is a void left by Kangaroo, there is a gap for an aggregator.”
On the new service, Highfield adds: “We believe Microsoft has a number of unique selling points to achieve this: we have strong partnerships with leading content providers; established technology; the largest digital advertising sales house in the UK; the ability to roll our service out across other platforms; and most importantly, we’ve got unparalleled reach to an audience who want free, quality video-on-demand services.”
Shows won’t appear on MSN Video until they’re no longer available on broadcasters’ own websites. The service will be ads-supported, it’s claimed.
Of no inconsequential interest, the new service also signals a restart of the platform wars – while it will function quite happily on Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard isn’t supported, for some reason – let the criticisms begin…