MSN Hops on New Video Soapbox

Microsoft refreshed its video platform today with a new beta version of MSN Video. The updated site reflects the design, layout and features of Soapbox, Microsoft’s answer to Google’s user-generated video site

The new version is compatible across multiple browsers, including
Firefox and Mozilla using Flash, a Microsoft spokesperson told Additionally, with the new interface, viewers
can search and add videos to their playlists, tag videos, and open
their windows to full screen without interrupting the video.

The spokesperson said the update follows last week’s relaunch of MSN
Entertainment, which includes MSN TV, Movies, and Music.

Microsoft first released Soapbox in September. The product has
many of the same features found on other video-sharing sites. Users
can rate, comment on, and tag each others videos. They can browse
categories, find related videos, subscribe to RSS feeds, and
share their favorites.

At the time of Soapbox’s launch, YouTube led the user-generated video
market, with greater market share than MySpace, Google, and Yahoo,
according to Hitwise market research.

Not much has changed. According to Nielsen//NetRatings,
saw 45 million visitors in March 2006 to MSN Video’s 11.5 million. The
average time spent on YouTube was over 40 minutes compared to MSN
Video’s five minutes.

In related online video news, British firm Autonomy Corp. today
announced it would demerge with video search engine Blinkx and offer
it on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM Market.

Blinkx technology relies on speech recognition to identify content rather
than simply text and XML tagging, as is the case with most other
video-search solutions. It also recognizes text within video, such as
the name on the back of a uniform jersey.

Some in the industry have called video search a “billion dollar
opportunity,” because of the chance it offers to pair brand advertisers
with narrowly targeted searchers.

Google’s purchase of for $1.65 billion last year is indicative of the direction of the market.

And shares in Blinkx plc are expected to start trading as a separate
company in May 2007, according to a statement. After the demerger and
any associated offering, Autonomy is expected to hold approximately
10 percent of Blinkx’s ordinary shares.

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