Broadband Content for All: MSN to Deliver Advanced High-Speed Video to Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 14, 2003 — The MSN®
network of Internet services today announced a bold step in its quest to solidify its position as the best online location for broadband consumers in the United States with the debut of a high-quality broadband video player with no monthly subscriptions, no annual fees — no charge at all to consumers. Unveiled by MSNBC.com President Scott Moore at Streaming Media CA 2003 Conference and Exhibition, MSN Video will be broadly available across the online network this winter in the United States only, along with a range of other new MSN services for broadband consumers. MSN will support the rich broadband content offering with revenue generated from the unique video advertising services it will offer advertisers.

Unlike other online networks that charge consumers for broadband video services, MSN will offer free access to high-resolution, on-demand news, sports, entertainment and other video, including programming from NBC News and MSNBC.com that isn’t available anywhere else on the Web. Additional content from a wealth of providers will be added to the service for the consumer launch this winter. Through this offering, which will be integrated throughout the MSN network, MSN will provide advertisers with unmatched access to sought-after broadband consumers via video and contextual ads.

“The vast amount of broadband content that we will freely offer is unique to the Web and is part of our vision to deliver essential information services to all consumers,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president for MSN. “We will be able to offer rich broadband content to all consumers because the broadband services MSN will offer advertisers is the next generation of brand advertising on the Web.”

MSN to Deliver High-Quality Video from Exclusive Sources

Streaming video is growing in popularity, with over 56 million consumers streaming video or audio each month. MSN will offer the best freely available broadband video experience to eager consumers. Busy consumers want this type of service because it offers them more control of their viewing experience by letting them choose when to see which programs. They can condense programs to watch only the segments that are important to them, or combine shows to play back-to-back from multiple sources.

MSN Video will offer custom programming to consumers, so they can watch the type of programming that most interests them, from news to sports to entertainment to a host of other topics, or even specific program segments. When the offering becomes broadly available, consumers will have the opportunity to watch segments of their favorite television programming on demand from any device that supports broadband Internet access. MSN Video will offer the following:

  • Customized viewing and interactivity. Consumers can create customized viewing lists of favorite video segments or watch entire shows at the time that best fits their schedule.

  • Instant playback and fast video streaming. Built on Microsoft® Windows Media®
    9 Series technology, MSN Video delivers an instant, always-on streaming experience for broadband consumers, effectively eliminating any buffering delays, as well as offering up to 300Kbps playback speeds.

  • Consistent experience. Consumers use the same on-screen interface and Windows Media 9 Series Player controls regardless of where on the MSN network they use the video service.

  • Great exclusive content. While MSN Video is in beta testing, exclusive news content will be provided from NBC and MSNBC.com, including content from the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Dateline NBC,” “Meet the Press” and CNBC. Additional content from a wealth of providers will be added to the service for the consumer launch this winter.

MSN to Provide Advertisers With Access to Prime Consumers

According to independent research,* consumers spend a combined total of more than 1 billion hours each week using streaming media and other online services. Consumers are increasingly turning off their televisions to go online, thus spending less time watching television. This behavior reduces the ability of advertisers to reach these consumers. MSN will now allow advertisers to reach them, in particular the high-income earners and young adults who are the heaviest users of streaming media. In addition, MSN will provide advertisers with the following:

  • Rich ad format. The service offers 15-second video ads, a length recommended by the advertising industry, for every five to six minutes of content. In addition, stationary ads displayed within the MSN Video on-screen player are synched to the video ads and remain live on the player until the next video ad appears. The fixed ads also provide Web links to an advertiser’s Web site or other information. The result is advertising that combines the emotional impact of television with the instant interactivity of the Web.

  • Massive audiences. MSN Video will be available across the MSN network. Also, the ad-driven business model and technology that allow MSN to provide the service for free are expected to attract substantially more broadband consumers than subscription video services.

Availability of advertising inventory will initially be limited until the service is more broadly available.

Starcom MediaVest Group, MSNBC.com Help Shape New Offering

MSN developed MSN Video by teaming up with Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and MSNBC.com. SMG, one of the world’s largest brand communications groups, helped develop the media-buying components of MSN Video, while MSNBC.com brought six years of streaming media experience to the development of MSN Video.

“MSN came to us with a great concept and high motivation to make it real,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, president of SMG’s Internet practice. “Our objective was to help them craft the idea into a desirable, advertising-supported solution that would ensure consumer acceptance, help shape the next generation of advertising-supported video delivery, as well as get immediate traction in the marketplace. Advertisers can’t afford to be cut off from the growing number of consumers who now spend less time in front of the TV and more time online via broadband. MSN Video will help fill this void and connect clients to the increasingly valuable broadband consumers.”

MSNBC.com, which began offering streaming video on its own Web site in 1997, brought another vital component to the alliance with MSN: news, the streaming content most in demand among broadband consumers.* MSN will offer exclusive online access to individual video segments from NBC News and MSNBC.com properties.

“People want more than basic news video on the Web. As with television news, they want news they can trust from broadcasters they trust,” said Scott Moore, president and CEO of MSNBC.com. “Nowhere else on the Web can people watch respected journalists like Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Tim Russert. MSN will offer consumers the information they want in the customized viewing experience they desire.”

Array of Broadband Offerings Launches This Winter on MSN

MSN Video is one of several broadband offerings that will launch this winter on MSN. The network will deliver a wave of services that are designed to deliver the best communication and information services for broadband consumers. Among these offerings will be MSN Premium and MSN Plus, the newest versions of MSN premier subscription service, as well as a range of new services across the MSN network.

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 350 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 34 markets and 18 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and ad sales to businesses worldwide. MSN 8 is the first Internet software product to have earned the trusted Good Housekeeping Seal. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com/ . MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

* Odyssey Homefront Study, January 2003

Microsoft, MSN and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .

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