AP, Microsoft to share member videos in tiny, useless web interface

The Associated Press announced it will allow AP members to post videos to their Online Video Network for sharing with others. Previously, the content supply was one-way, from the AP only. Microsoft and the AP are partners in the OVN, and will share ad revenues with members that supply the videos.

Unfortunately, it seems that by working with Microsoft, the AP has hobbled their efforts. The video is streamed in the increasingly abandoned Windows Media format, instead of the ubiquitous Flash Video, presumably by Microsoft’s choice.

Adding insult to injury, the widget that AP members put on their web sites to host the videos does not appear to work in Firefox on Mac, Windows, or Linux. It does seem to work in Safari on Mac, and of course it works in Internet Explorer.

Actual size:

Associated Press video widget

The AP justifies this choice on their Browser and Platform Compatibility page, saying that “If a user attempts to access the OVN while using Mozilla’s Firefox (8 percent share), Apple’s Safari (2 percent), AOL’s Netscape (2 percent), or Opera (<1 percent) they will likely be unable to launch and/or properly view the video player. The primary reason for this incompatibility is that the Microsoft’s video player (on which the OVN is built) requires the use of ActiveX controls – a technology that these browsers don’t support.”

By their numbers, 13 percent of web users don’t matter. By better numbers, 22 percent don’t matter. How many people they are dismissing varies by who you ask, but it’s undeniably a lot of folks.

But it doesn’t really matter because the text is so tiny, it’s hard to imagine anyone reading the title of a video and clicking on it before it scrolls away. And if that was not enough to deter viewers: If you’re lucky to be an Internet Explorer user with a magnifying glass and fast hands, you still have to wait through a 30-second commercial before you can watch the video.

Try it for yourself. I hope that the member sites are ready for the deluge of ad revenue.