Microsoft to stream popular TV shows for free in UK

Just a week after closing its YouTube rival Soapbox, Microsoft's MSN Video promises to begin streaming full-length BBC Worldwide TV shows, absolutely free to UK users

Just a week after closing its YouTube rival Soapbox, we get this news: Microsoft's MSN Video site will soon begin streaming full-length BBC Worldwide TV shows, absolutely free to UK users.

A total of 350 hours of full-length shows will be available at launch, reports the Guardian, and includes BBC titles such as The Young Ones, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Peep Show, and others such as Shameless from production company All3Media. All will be supported by advertising to cover costs, and will stream to both Mac and PC users in the UK.

But it could go live with too little buzz and, more importantly, too little content to pull in users and keep them coming back. Channel 4, for example, already lets UK TV addicts stream programmes from its content library of over 4,000 hours, including shows such as Time Team, Location, Location, Location, Trigger Happy TV, Shameless and Queer As Folk. Again, it's all paid for by ads.

There's another potential issue. Earlier this year, reports surfaced that the American service Hulu is planning to launch in the UK. It is rumoured to launch with 3,000 hours of full-length American TV shows on top of an archive of shows from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

In order to get to the top and stay there, MSN Video needs far, far more content, it needs more than just clips of shows from Channel 4, and it needs to pull it all together before Hulu launches.

Either that, or it needs to offer something the others don't. Significantly higher-quality video, or even HD where possible, wouldn't hurt.

Look out for the new content next week.

 

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