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Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox

Jeff Baumgartner
11/29/2011

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is set to offer 26 live TV channels and an array of video-on-demand (VoD) content via Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Xbox 360 next month.

While the offering is nowhere near Verizon's full selection of FiOS TV channels and content, it is a huge step forward for both the carrier's pay-TV franchise and Microsoft's popular gaming console.

Verizon will likely add more to the mix once it obtains the necessary rights to stream more channels to the Microsoft device over IP. At the start, it appears that Verizon's cleared to introduce more than two dozen cable channels tied to Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Scripps Networks and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. , and will include several popular networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon, ESPNews, Food Network, HBO and TBS. But it also means that FiOS TV's debut on the Xbox 360 won't include any of major broadcast TV networks.

In comparison, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse, which uses Microsoft Mediaroom, already replicates its pay-TV service on the console, turning the Xbox 360 into a full-fledged set-top. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) also has a deal in place to offer an app for the Xbox 360, but will start off only with access to a library of TV Everywhere VoD titles, meaning the user must also be an authenticated pay-TV customer to receive them.

Verizon said FiOS TV subs who also subscribe to the telco's high-speed Internet service and are Xbox LIVE Gold members will gain access to the new app sometime next month. The next Xbox Live update is set to go live on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Verizon's already taking pre-orders online, and priming the pump with a triple-play promotion that features FiOS TV, its symmetrical 35Mbit/s Internet tier and voice service for $89.99 a month. The deal, good through Jan. 21, 2012, also includes a one-year Xbox LIVE Gold subscription and a copy of the Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary game.

Why this matters
There's more road to travel, but getting access to a subset of FiOS TV's linear lineup gets the Xbox 360 one step closer to fulfilling Microsoft's mission of having its console become the home's media entertainment hub. The debut will also test how well the Xbox 360's Kinect gesture-based system performs as a video navigation platform.

For Verizon and Comcast, the integration with the Xbox 360, with the potential for more hookups with consumer electronics devices, may keep the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at bay as it considers slapping pay-TV providers with an AllVid mandate that would succeed the current CableCARD rules on separable security.

For more



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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msilbey
msilbey
12/5/2012 | 4:47:39 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


A commenter over at Zatz Not Funny brought up an intriguing point about VZ's IP delivery. Will the live content for the Xbox be multicast? Would make sense given that the company will go all-IP at some point, even for linear television. Have to see how things play out as Verizon starts to offer live streaming for other platforms. (and where are those other platforms, by the way?)

paolo.franzoi
paolo.franzoi
12/5/2012 | 4:47:38 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


 


msilbey,


FiOS does IP video for VOD already and is moving to having long tail content over multicast IP.


The third wavelength would then be used for more HD.


seven


 

Cooper10
Cooper10
12/5/2012 | 4:47:38 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


So Viacom takes both CVC and TWC to court over delivering signals to iPads within the home, with a significant part of their argument being that Nielsen doesn't capture viewership on the iPad, and hence they're being "harmed".  Did I miss an announcement from Nielsen that they're now measuring viewership on the Xbox, so Viacom is allowing FiOS to deliver their networks to the Xbox? 

msilbey
msilbey
12/5/2012 | 4:47:37 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


Viacom worked out a deal with Cablevision already. It strikes me that this is less about fighting the streaming rights battle in court than it is about Viacom trying to gain a better negotiating position in contract talks with distributors.

msilbey
msilbey
12/5/2012 | 4:47:37 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


seven- Long-tail VOD content delivered via IP multicast? How does that work? Isn't VOD by necessity unicast? 

paolo.franzoi
paolo.franzoi
12/5/2012 | 4:47:36 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


Re-read what I wrote...


VOD is delivered over IP...I never said Multicast.


Long Tail is moving to multicast.


seven

msilbey
msilbey
12/5/2012 | 4:47:36 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


seven- You're referring to long-tail linear TV? I don't think of content as long-tail if it's currently on television, but I see what you're getting at. Where are you hearing this? Any sense on timeline/scope?

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
12/5/2012 | 4:47:35 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


The question then turns to whether programmers are justified to ask for more if their content is delivered out of the house (i think charging MSOs and their customers more for something restricted to another screen like an iPad in their homes  is absurd)? 


I'd argue that consumers will -- and should -- be charged a premium  if they're allowed to access their subscription out of the home. But how much? $5 a month? $10 a month?  Anyone who's purchased a Slingbox has already proved that there is some value assigned to a true notion of TV Everywhere (meaning *everything* -- linear TV, VoD, etc... not just a authenticated on-demand fare). JB


 

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
12/5/2012 | 4:47:35 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


That is an interesting point... but I think the ratings component was only part of their beef since viewership , at least early on, wasn't that great (but they do want to have measurement there, I agree with you there).  But Viacom was also complaining that the MSOs were "seizing" their programming by doing it over IP to the iPad. Of course when you boil it down, they just want more money for delivery to iPads even if access is restricted to within reach of the subscriber's home WiFi signal and get those negotiations going before out-of-home comes into play.  I'd be curious to know if VZ had to pay extra to get rights for delivery to the Xbox 360 and, possibly, to other IP connected devices in the home. JB

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
12/5/2012 | 4:47:35 PM
re: Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox


But isn't this why channels  that are assigned to the cable SDV ghetto are typically niche or in this long-tail category? It would seem to defeat the purpose (if the purpose includes converving bandwidht) if a popular channel was put on a multicast.  Guessing the same model used for cable SDV would work the same if the multicast is adapted for IP delivery. JB


 

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