Microsoft is shutting down half of the so-called ?shows? that it launched with the new Microsoft Network less than four months ago, as it struggles to find the right content to win subscribers away from rivals like America Online.
Ten of the 20 Web sites - which Microsoft insists on calling ?shows? - will not be renewed when their current contracts run out. They will be replaced by up to 14 new sites from other content providers, which the company hope will attract more advertising and hit-counts.
Larry Cohen, group product manager for MSN, said the changes were the result of the same thinking that TV networks went through as they planned schedules for new seasons. "When we rolled out the network in October, we said that some would be renewed and some wouldn?t," he said.
MSN declined to name the sites that will be axed, but they are likely to include its history magazine Restrospect 360 and its online soap opera 475 Madison Avenue.
The introduction of flat-rate pricing schemes offering unlimited access has put pressure on all Internet Service Providers to reexamine the nature of the content they carry. With a business model built on advertising rather than ?pay-as-you-go? revenue from users, content has to be geared to appeal to the greatest number of potential subscribers.
Since it introduced its $19.95 a month flat rate pricing, AOL has cut down on the number of content providers using its service. Microsoft is known to be actively pursuing many of AOL?s existing providers in a bid to sign them up for MSN instead.
The closure of the MSN sites also means 200 temporary workers will not have their contracts renewed. "You gear up when you need people, then you gear down," said Bejan.
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