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