Light Reading

FiOS Snags Xbox One First

Mari Silbey
12/18/2013
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Verizon takes the prize for becoming the first pay-TV provider to land a highly valued app on Microsoft's new Xbox One gaming console.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced Tuesday that its FiOS YV app is now available to Xbox One users who also subscribe to Xbox Gold and the twin FiOS TV and Internet services. The new FiOS app offers "up to 74" live television channels and supports voice and gesture commands through the Xbox Kinect interface. A spokesperson said Verizon is looking at adding on-demand content in the future.

Verizon, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) all have apps on the Xbox 360. But so far Verizon is the only traditional service provider to make the leap to the next-generation Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) gaming platform, which debuted nearly as month ago.

Verizon likely won't be alone for long, though, because Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) is also gearing up to launch its multiscreen video app on the new console. Meanwhile, several major programmers and over-the-top video providers already offer Xbox One apps, including ESPN, Fox Broadcasting Co. , Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). (See Xbox Puts Time Warner App on Tap.)

Ironically, just as Verizon is extending its FiOS app to the new Xbox One, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is discontinuing support for the Xbox 360 as an alternative set-top option for U-verse TV customers. That service, which launched in October 2010, is ending on December 31.

The Xbox One launch for FiOS TV comes just days after Verizon made two moves to expand the out-of-home line-up of linear TV channels for the platform's FiOS Mobile streaming app. Since early December, Verizon has added 18 live channels to its FiOS Mobile line-up for TV Everywhere viewers, tripling the total number of channels available to 27. Verizon officials say they plan to continue live TV channels to the line-up as they gain the out-of-home rights from content providers.

While Verizon is the only pay-TV operator with an Xbox One app to date, Microsoft's HDMI pass-through feature means that users can still get a cable television feed using the new Xbox as a receiver. In that case, however, Microsoft overlays its own user interface on top of the service provider's content. (See Does Xbox Have a UI for Cable?)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/24/2013 | 4:13:26 AM
Re: Why mix gaming and TV?
So Microsoft kills the STB feature in the old Xbox, then sells off Media Room, I guess their play will be app based over the top content vs. full integration with the delivery middleware?  STB virtualization? Or am I missing something.  The problem with MS, is that it has no problem just killing off projects that don't suit its direction, leaving customers in limbo.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/19/2013 | 5:37:56 PM
Re: That was fast
What an amazing turnaround, eh? Now everybody wants in. Will be interesting to see who goes next on the Xbox One and who benefits the most from associating with it.
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 11:10:19 PM
That was fast
It was just a couple years ago that Verizon and other operators were being pretty vague and quiet about working with Microsoft and the Xbox 360. It has gone from being a somewhat experiemental affiliation to being a must-have that can affect competition.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 12:18:31 PM
Re: Why mix gaming and TV?
Yeah, I agree. That's another key advantage. Just a better set-top all around, sorta like a TiVo box. 
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 12:11:47 PM
Re: Why mix gaming and TV?
Nice. Smart strategy. Using the XBox controller as a remote may be a better experience too.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 12:10:23 PM
Re: Why mix gaming and TV?
Yes, less STB clutter. And yes, lower equipment and installation costs. Plus, you get the Xbox user interface, which might be better than FiOS's. I think it could get more people to try FiOS too, particularly those who haven't subscribed to a pay TV service yet and might not otherwise. It will be interesting to see how much of a boost, if any, FiOS gets from this arrangement.     
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 12:06:38 PM
Re: Who's next?
Yep, I think it's designed to get some cord cutters to come back. More importantly, I think it's designed to get younger folks who might not sign up for a pay TV sub at all to do so thru their Xbox. I suspect that's the bigger opportunity here, at least from Verizon's perspective.   
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 11:27:59 AM
Re: Who's next?
Maybe some of these gamers were cord cutters, so it could encourage them to sign back up? I couldn't see many people switching for it, but would be a nice to have if you're not already a TV subscriber.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 11:26:35 AM
Why mix gaming and TV?
So for a consumer, what's the benefit of using the FiOS app? Less STB clutter or would you also save on the equipment and installation costs? Is there integration between the platforms at all? Wonder if this would put anyone considering a switch to FiOS over the edge.
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/18/2013 | 9:20:45 AM
Who's next?
It will be interesting to see what Xbox competitors will do to "up their games" to compete, and if FiOS will be as quick to jump on those as well, or if Verizon's decision (followed by Rogers) will keep Xbox out in front of Nintendo and others for a long time.

It will also be interesting to see if the new features of the device will convince consumers to change from PlayStation or Wii -- particularly if they've already bought hundreds of dollars of games.
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