Convergence, Yet Again
MSN-TV hopes broadband means broad market
By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/19/2004 8:00:00 PM
Microsoft is once again trying to converge the TV and PC. The broadband and home-network-enabled version of its MSN TV Internet receiver hits the streets next month. Similar but less feature-rich devices from Microsoft and AOL failed miserably in the late '90s, but Microsoft believes market conditions are ideal for a relaunch.
"It's as much designed for the media enthusiast as for someone who wants to access the Internet and e-mail on their TV," says Andy Sheldon, product manager for applications and services, Microsoft TV Group. The $199 device will be sold by Best Buy, Circuit City and other retailers. It will also have a $9.95 monthly fee for delivery of broadband content. A dial-up service will cost $21.95 per month.
The MSN TV set-top will enable users to view PC content on their TV screens via wireless or wired connection. Users will also be able to surf the Net and e-mail on the TV.
"It's the MSN properties that will set us apart," he says. Hundreds of exclusive clips from MSNBC or Discovery will be available for viewing, and users will have a chance to build their own on-demand newscast on the PC and then play it back on the TV.
While the MSN content is a good starting point, the addition of Windows Media 10 and its digital rights-management system in early 2005 promises customers far more flexibility in downloading digital content. Sheldon says WM10 will allow users to download content from Web sites like Movielink or CinemaNow and play them back on the TV. "They'll be able to watch that content where they want," he says.
Adi Kishore, media and entertainment strategies analyst with the Yankee Group, says the challenge facing MSN TV is to provide product that is better than devices from companies like TiVo, Akimbo or traditional PC-based services.
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