Updated 10/14/2009: Player is now live on the front page of the France 24 website. Changed the link to the new player, which has removed some of the interactive features, no doubt to return later. 

France 24, the French 24 hour news channel, has introduced a new Silverlight-based player that also uses Smooth Streaming to deliver an innovative take on live news. You can check out the player and their blog post (in French.)

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Here’s the quick summary of the France 24 French blog post:

“Imagine that each spoken word in a video is automatically transcribed and associated with a recorded video sequence. Add to that a program grid, real-time viewer data and vote tallying. Then present all of this in a high definition player that enables you to control the playback and you get the latest prototype presented by France 24 and built in collaboration with the R&D teams at Yacast Media and Microsoft.”

What does this actually let you do? Well a number of really neat things:

  1. Live SD broadcast content at up to 1.3Mbps using Smooth Streaming, so you get the best quality video to suit your bandwidth and CPU (Smooth Streaming isn’t just for HD).
  2. The player timeline is the program grid. Instead of blindly guessing a particular program might start, you actually see the program listings under the timeline. Clicking on the back or forward arrows move the timeline by an hour.
  3. Tags (metadata) of keywords are automatically extracted from the program audio. The tags are shown as a pop-up over the timeline and provide another navigation option.
  4. A real-time graph showing the volume of viewers of the stream.
  5. A real-time bubble chart showing voting – the votes represent users who recommend a particular portion of the program.