With the announcement of a collaboration between Microsoft and Universal which sees a new range of movies coming to the Xbox 360, can games consoles now be seen as an important driver in making online video a mainstream part of the living room?
Netflix U.S. Only
When the Xbox 360 recently got a makeover to the New Xbox Experience, Xbox Live users in the U.S. gained access to the full range of ‘Watch Now’ movies on Netflix. That’s over 12,000 titles that are now available to stream through the Xbox and onto your television.
Unfortunately, Netflix is a U.S. only operation, and so Xbox 360 users in Europe and elsewhere weren’t afforded such luxury. But now, those of us in the UK and Ireland are at last starting to get some titles filtering through. Paramount, Warner Bros., and MGM already offer titles through the system, and now another studio has climbed on board.
Universal Movies Deal
Universal Movies has done a deal with Microsoft to bring its movies, both old and new, to Xbox Live. All the titles will be downloadable for between £2.10 and £4.50, depending on the age of the movie and whether you want it in standard or high definition.
The initial offering of 29 films includes classics such as The Incredible Hulk, Shaun Of The Dead, The Blues Brothers, and Scarface. Once downloaded, a movie will remain on the console’s hard drive for 14 days, but once playback is commenced, you have just 24 hours to finish watching.
Movies But Not TV
So, that’s movies sorted out, but what about TV shows? Stephen McGill, Head of gaming and entertainment at Xbox 360 informed T3 that streaming television isn’t a priority at present, with the main focus being on delivering the best film titles.
The reasoning behind this decision is, rather bizarrely, that Microsoft thinks people already have enough ways to watch television. McGill stated:
“People are already consuming TV shows through other mediums – if I want to watch something, I can watch it on my TV, my laptop or use services like the iPlayer. It’s not necessary to offer consumers another way of watching TV, Xbox users want movies”.
Unfortunately, this means Microsoft doesn’t seem interested in having the BBC iPlayer available through the Xbox 360. The iPlayer is already available on the Wii and on the PS3 via its built-in Web browser. YouTube has also been given a TV friendly makeover for PS3 fans.
The Universal deal just underlines how important games consoles are in making online video and television and movie downloads mainstream and accessible to all. Between them, the three current-gen consoles offer a multitude of different options for gamers to download or stream content.
As the range of devices in the living room, from Internet-enabled television, set-top boxes, and Blu-ray players increases, games consoles also have their place. All of the modern ones offer multimedia experiences in which online video is a key ingredient.