Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to be the only set-top box you need to have sat next to your TV. And it’s going a long way down the path to achieving that with its latest line-up of TV services coming to an Xbox 360 near you soon.
Games Consoles Plus
This generation of home games consoles are more than just for playing games on. All three current models – the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii – can be hooked up to the Internet and turned into entertainment hubs in your living room, delivering digital media down the tubes and on to your television.
This has been going on for several years now, with Microsoft and Sony continually upping the ante in terms of the number of partners, and quality and range of content. And Microsoft is taking things to a whole new level with its latest effort on the Xbox 360.
Xbox 360 TV
A subscription-based TV service for the Xbox 360 was first rumored before E3 back in June. But that hasn’t come to pass. Perhaps the rumors were just slightly off, or perhaps Microsoft wasn’t able to secure the deals needed to make a subscription worth paying. Either way, we’ve ended up with something else. But it’s still good.
Microsoft has struck licensing deals with around 40 broadcasters, many in the U.S., others covering 20 countries. Content partners coming to the Xbox 360 include Bravo, ESPN, HBO, Syfy, BBC, Canal+, FOXTEL, MediaSet, and ZDF.
These content partners will provide some but not all of the programming via the Microsoft console, with gamers able to use Kinect to browse through the list and choose the channel they want to watch. The caveat is the need for an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and subscriptions to the individual content partners. So while some will be free and available to all, others will be locked to the majority of people.
Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said:
“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy. Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.”
The range of channels and broadcasters available on the Xbox 360 after this update is huge, but it’s important to remember this isn’t going to be a replacement for a full cable service, so cord-cutters beware.
Having said that, Microsoft has worked hard to secure deals with industry titans, and Xbox 360 owners will now get to watch TV through their once-humble games console. That’s a hell of a leap from just a few years ago.
[Via Microsoft Press Release]
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