Sky Player is BSkyB’s foray onto the Web, enabling subscribers to access Sky programming on their computer. And now, thanks to a deal between Microsoft and BSkyB, their Xbox 360 as well.
Games consoles are ready-made set-top boxes just waiting for online video content to be added to them. All three of the current-gen home consoles, the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, can be hooked up to the Internet and that feature can easily be used for streaming video as well as the intended use of online gaming.
Each of the three consoles has seen some movement of late on video content being added. The PS3 is probably in the best position because its built-in Web browser means the Sony console is able to access Hulu, the BBC iPlayer, Joost, and any other streaming video service available on the Web. Xbox 360 owners instead have to rely on applications being added to their console’s dashboard.
It has secured quite a lot of content though. Xbox 360 owners in the U.S. have access to Netflix’s ‘Watch Instantly’ playlist, although they’re not alone. It’s rarer these days for a set-top box or Internet-enabled device NOT to have Netfix integration. Thus proving the company’s commitment to video on-demand.
Xbox Sky Player
Now, it’s been announced that Sky Player is coming to the Xbox 360 in the UK. PS3 owners can already access Sky Player online through their Web browsers but this is a new, specially developed version just for the Microsoft console.
A rough release date of Autumn has been given but there are no details on pricing yet. The Web-based Sky Player service sees existing subscribers with multi-room given access to the channels they subscribe to; non-multi-room subscribers having to pay a fee for a Sky Player account; non-subscribers having to pay the same fee they would to have the full Sky service in their homes. I can’t see it being much different on the Xbox 360.
Xbox Sky Player viewers will have access to sports, movies, and other programming, all of which will be streamed live or on-demand. A 1Mb Broadband connection is required and all programming will be delivered in SD DVD quality. The service will be integrated into the Xbox 360 dashboard and will have Xbox 360-specific features such as the use of avatars and the ability to talk to other viewers in real-time.
The Sky Player service, on the Xbox 360 or otherwise, is only available to people resident in the UK and Ireland. But there is speculation that this deal could be followed by similar ones in the States with content-providers other than Sky, possibly to be announced as early as E3 2009 next week.
This is just yet another example of how games consoles are becoming an important element in the evolution of online video and digital streaming. They are already sat next next to your TV, hooked up to the Internet, and powerful enough to stream good-quality content. So it makes sense to use them to their full potential.
Buy ‘Xbox 360 Elite’ on Amazon – Now perfect to watch online video on.
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