{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Microsoft launched its own rival to the iPlayer last week, the MSN video player, which features thousands of hours of free programming.

It isn't a rival to the BBC as far as catch-up TV is concerned, but it does have archive content, something the iPlayer doesn't offer, as well as more recent content. 

I've been trying the MSN Video Player out... 

Content 

There seems to be a lot less content available on the new MSN Video Player than on the iPlayer, ITV Player, or via 4OD. Also, much of the content is already available on other web TV services. For example, Peep Show, Skins, and Shameless which are already available on 4OD.

The content is not comprehensive, and the range is no match for some other VOD services, but is instead intended to appeal to MSN's target audience of 18-34 year olds. 

Navigation

From the full TV shows section, you can search by keyword or browse by category. Actually, since you can pretty much view all the content in one screen, the navigation isn't such a huge issue. 

When more content is added though, features such as user reviews, top tens, and recommendations based on viewing history would be useful additions for discovering new videos. 

The organisation of content could be better though. For instance, all the available episodes of Peep Show are shown on this screen, but in a completely random order. Displaying them in chronological order shouldn't be too hard to do and would make it easier for users to find the episode they are looking for. 

Labelling of video links could be improved too. On the recommended episodes shown below, the actual title of the programmes is easily missed: 

It would also help if it remembered the last few programmes watched, as well as allowing you to resume viewing at the last point, if you were unable to finish watching a particular programme. 

Usability 

Viewers will need to install Silverlight if they want to access any of the content in HD – but the service will still function for those users who have Flash. The site also recommends that I upgrade to a newer browser (I'm using Safari) for a better experience, but it works well enough anyway.

The MSN Player is ad-supported, and there are pre-roll ads before each video of around 30 seconds, which isn't too intrusive. Also, unlike ITV Player, if you go away and come back to a programme after a while, you aren't forced to watch the ad again. 

Video quality is good too, though not as sharp when extended to full screen. You can view the video in the default size or full screen, but a third in-between option as provided by iPlayer would be handy. 

Conclusion

The MSN Video Player isn't bad at all, has some decent content, and is usable enough. At the moment though, much of the content and more can be found on ITV.com, 4OD and iPlayer, so it's hard to see too many people choosing MSN over these rivals. 

Graham Charlton

Published 16 March, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Ed

"For instance, all the available episodes of Peep Show are shown on this screen, but in a completely random order." Doesn't look random; they're in reverse chronological order, with the most recent episodes at the top. Seems quite logical, although the way they are laid out doesn't make this obvious.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David

I just spent time on the MSN Video Player. The TV Show sort for Peep Show looks fine to me. If you notice there is a sort filter on the left of the page.

  • Most Relevant
  • Most Recent
  • Most Popular

The sort defaults to Most Relevant. When I select Most Recent and >20 mins, it displays all Full Episodes of Peep Show in the correct order - Most recent episode to oldest episode. This is the correct order for TV Shows

Not sure what you meant by:

"all the available episodes of Peep Show are shown on this screen, but in a completely random order. Displaying them in chronological order shouldn't be too hard to do and would make it easier for users to find the episode they are looking for."

about 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

bilgicity

thank you very much good reply

about 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Advertising Player

The MSN Video Player has promise as being an online repository for classic shows. It is almost like an online version of Dave. However, to really take off, it needs more varied content, a more user-friendly layout, and above all better video quality. If that doesn’t happen then I’ll stick with the BBC iPlayer and 4oD until Arqiva and Hulu UK turn up.

about 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gary Barnacle

The new Video player is ok but not as good as the old player as with the new player you cant switch to full scrreen mode.

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

roberto

the best

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

graphiste

MSN video Player is quite good actually!

about 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.