Microsoft launches UK online VOD service

Microsoft launched its MSN Video Player online video-on-demand service in the UK yesterday, following a pilot that has been running since August.

MSN Video launched with a library of about 1,000 hours of content. Microsoft’s UK consumer business, headed by former BBC new media chief Ashley Highfield, has secured deals with BBC Worldwide and All3Media, giving it access to shows including Mock the Week, What Not to Wear, Peep Show, Shameless and How To Look Good Naked. Further content deals have been signed with producers Endemol and Shed Media. However, the service has not signed direct deals with UK broadcasters, unlike rival service SeeSaw, owned by Arqiva.

The launch of MSN Video marks a return to online VOD by Highfield, who headed up the abortive Kangaroo joint venture between the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.

The service can be accessed via Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, which provides adaptive bit-rate streaming to match the connection speed over which the video is being accessed. However, the service can also be accessed with Flash video.

Microsoft has currently no plans to rollout MSN Video in other territories.