Microsoft today launched their new Messenger TV service (Screen shots of which are here), an add-on to their popular MSN instant messaging service, allowing users to watch videos online whilst exchanging messages.
Through the Windows Live Messaging console these videos can then be easily shared amongst friends in your IM community, creating what is said to be a unique social experience and opening up an untapped advertising market.
The service will provide a range of TV clips several minutes in length, provided by companies such as UK based Channel 4. Channel 4 will provide clips of shows including Peep Show, Property Ladder, Father Ted and Shameless, whilst other content producers will include ITN, Reuters and National Geographic as well as record label EMI.
Other content tipped to be played on the service includes South Park and Pimp My Ride, as well as music videos from Kylie to Britney Spears. The service will run adverts ahead of the clip as well as an advertising banner throughout the duration of playback.
The service is initially being launched in 20 countries, many throughout Europe, which is home to 95 million Windows Messenger users. Microsoft has around 14 million monthly unique users of Windows Live Messenger in the UK alone. It will also launch in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Canada and Mexico but not the United States.
“We see Windows Live Messenger as media in its own right, one that has been somewhat untapped as an opportunity,” – MSN UK exec producer Peter Bale.
Channel 4’s director of new media technology John Gisby commented on the deal with Microsoft.
“Our core audience is spending increasing amounts of time online and expects to be able to watch its favourite Channel 4 shows this way.”
John Mangelaars, the vice-president, EMEA, of consumer and online for Microsoft said “Online video has exploded in popularity over the last year, but to date it has been something people watch on their own. Messenger TV is set to change all that,”
The move by Microsoft comes less than a week after they pulled out of a long run take over approach for Yahoo, aimed primarily at its position in the online advertising market. This move certainly demonstrates the company’s eagerness to expand into that market.