MSN, Microsoft Corp.’s Web portal, said on Tuesday it will make a big push to stream live concerts to its users after signing an exclusive global partnership with Control Room, the company behind the web broadcast of last year’s Live 8 event.
The move to offer major live performances online is the latest move by Microsoft to drive both consumer and advertiser growth on its sites with a range of new entertainment and media features to challenge or differentiate itself from rivals including Yahoo Inc., YouTube Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace.
As part of the multiyear agreement, MSN will exclusively air 36 different live events which will also be available for on-demand viewing for an agreed period afterward. The shows will be available on MSN’s 42 sites around the world.
The shows will be free to the viewer and supported by advertising, according to Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment and video services for MSN.
MSN kicks off the partnership with Control Room on Oct. 2 with a live performance from Sony BMG R&B singer John Legend delivered from London.
There were no details on financial terms or specifications of the video feed, but if ever there was an offering that cried out for a PC connected to a home entertainment center, this certainly is it. Presumably MSN is planning on offering something better than the usual little Internet video box.
Update: Some more details from the official press release:
Under this new arrangement, MSN will be the exclusive online worldwide destination via live and on-demand streaming for Control Room’s slate of live music programming, and visitors to MSN® Video will have ongoing access to live concerts from the most popular, top-selling musical artists as well as today’s most talked-about breakthrough acts.
Further, through this agreement, Microsoft Corp. may stream Control Room shows to other platforms, including Xbox Live®, MSN Messenger, Microsoft® Windows Media® Player and Windows® XP Media Center Edition.
In continuing to expand its entertainment offerings, MSN is creating rich new opportunities for advertisers to integrate into and around the content itself. Advertisers can take advantage of display, text and streaming video opportunities, engaging with the worldwide MSN audience.
Commercials! I guess they’ll sneak them into the dull spots in the concert just like with football.