MSN’s New Year’s Eve Webcast to Carry Ads

As it did last year, MSN will Webcast the New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square, but this time around its coverage will incorporate a new element: advertising.

At intervals throughout the evening, MSN will insert stand-alone :30 spots into the programming. Several advertisers have already signed on, including those in the entertainment and automotive verticals, but MSN declined to name them.

It’s not clear how the ads will be priced and targeted, or how frequently they will be displayed. Sources at MSN could not immediately be reached for comment.

The continuing dedication to live event streaming is consistent with comments made by MSN Video executives earlier this year. The approach holds some challenges for media brokers, however, since a publisher cannot easily predict the number of streams it will draw for a special event.

The Webcast will begin at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and last six hours. Taking a cue from AOL’s widely-praised Live8 coverage earlier this year, MSN will let viewers toggle between three co-hosts, who will be stationed at various locations in Times Square. Viewers will be encouraged to email comments, questions and well-wishes, some of which will be included in the evening’s programming.

Additionally, the Webcast will occasionally cut to an event called “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” at the Hard Rock Cafe, where The Woggles, The Troggs, New York Dolls and other bands will perform.

“Last year, viewers spent 45 minutes on average watching the celebration on MSN Video and this year we are making it even more interactive by giving consumers the opportunity to choose the camera angles and the events to focus on, instantly shaping their New Year’s Eve experience,” said Rob Bennett, product unit manager for MSN Video, TV and Movies, in a statement.

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