Microsoft today launched the full version of its TV-on-demand service, MSN Video Player. The online app allows UK users to watch full episodes of popular TV programs for free within their browser.
Viewers can tune into a catalog of entire series of classic British shows including Doctor Who, Footballers’ Wives, League of Gentlemen, Peep Show, and Sahara. MSN has managed to muster up content from BBC Worldwide, as well as studios such as Endemol, RDF Media and the Digital Rights Group. MSN Video Player looks great and includes an attractive, easy-to-use interface, along with a Bing-powered video search. Videos can be enjoyed in full screen, and there’s a cool dim lights setting that darkens the page surrounding the video.
Despite the quality of the product, I have serious doubts about the chances of success for MSN Video Player. Had it been launched three years ago it would’ve been hailed as a revolution in the way we consume television. In reality though, British TV viewers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to on-demand programming. The BBC, of course, has its awesome iPlayer, and now ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all boast online catch-up services of their own. MSN Video Player is not even the first to assimilate programs from a range of channels – SeeSaw, FilmOn, and, on a wider scale, YouTube, all already do this.
I can’t quite understand what niche MSN Video Player is trying to fill, here. It does play home to some very good shows but as far as I can see none of them are exclusively available on the service. The amount of content on there isn’t huge, and users will be disappointed to find out that the movies section features only trailers of upcoming films rather than a Voddler-style films on-demand service.
No doubt, swathes of MSN’s UK users will be paying the Video Player a visit over the next few days. But I can almost guarantee that just a mere fraction of these first-time visitors will still be tuning in in a month’s time. If you’ve tried the service yourself I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.