Microsoft's SmartGlass app turns connected PCs, tablets and smartphones (including new Windows Phone devices) into companion devices that can control games and services running on the Xbox 360. The app also allows those devices to share content with the Xbox 360, too. Consumers can, for example, start watching a TV show on a tablet, pause it, and resume viewing it on their TV, connected to the Xbox 360 console. The SmartGlass app will become available later this year.
Microsoft also announced it will launch an Internet Explorer browser for the Xbox this fall along with a batch of new video options for the console, including NBA.com League Pass and NHL GameCenter Live.
More interesting is that the Xbox 360 is adding WatchESPN, an authenticated TV Everywhere app that offers the live TV feeds of ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3 and ESPN U. The catch is that WatchESPN can only be accessed by Xbox 360 users that also subscribe to a pay-TV service from a provider that has a TV Everywhere deal in place with ESPN. For now, that means customers of Bright House Networks , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
Why this matters
Microsoft's main strategy for the Xbox 360 is to turn the gaming device into the home's central entertainment hub. To do that, it needed to have tighter integration with mobile devices and content help from major pay-TV operators. (See Microsoft's Pursuit of 'Input 1' .)
Microsoft is filling in pieces of that strategy via an expanding menu of over-the-top content, but the company has become increasingly reliant on pay-TV partnerships in order to obtain access to a subset of live TV channels as well as popular TV Everywhere services such as HBO GO.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable