Microsoft is considering launching a TV channel on its Xbox Live service exclusively for owners of the Xbox 360 games console. But would gamers be willing to pay for the service, or would an advertising-supported option prove to be wiser?
Video Games Consoles
Games consoles are increasingly becoming a central hub for entertainment, way beyond gaming. Thanks to all three current-gen home consoles, the Xbox 360 from Microsoft, the PS3 from Sony, and the Wii from Nintendo, being able to connect to the Internet, a whole new world has opened up.
The three consoles offer different online TV services. All of them now carry Netflix, with the Wii being the most recent device to join the party. The Wii and PS3 also carry BBC iPlayer in the U.K., and the PS3 has VidZone, a free, ad-supported music video player.
Xbox Live TV
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has held talks with Peter Chernin, former President of News Corp., about creating an online television channel on the Xbox 360.
The channel would be available exclusively to Xbox Live subscribers, and would offer a mixture of original programming and reruns of existing shows.
It looked for a time as though Conan O’Brien would be producing a show exclusively for Xbox 360 owners, but he eventually signed to TBS. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that O’Brien’s show would have been the headline act on this new channel. But it wasn’t to be.
To Pay Or Not To Pay?
An online TV channel exclusive to the Xbox 360 sounds great, obviously, but the funding for it has to come from somewhere. And this is where the controversial part of the plan comes into the equation.
Chernin is said to have suggested the subscription price of Xbox Live gets raised by $1- to $2-a-month. Xbox Live Gold subscribers currently pay $50-per-year for the privilege, so a $12/$24 charge on top of that would certainly be noticed.
If this were to happen, I’d suggest instead that the whole venture be funded by advertising, which is less likely to cause dissension amongst the ranks of Xbox 360 owners. Make them pay and they’ll likely resent the channel rather than embrace it.
I’d love to see this happen. It would further cement the role games consoles are filling as an important driver of online video, and would be another option alongside Netflix and the like for Xbox 360 owners’ consumption of online media.