Xbox 360 to Stream Live TV
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) had its own to-do at E3 in Los Angeles, as it introduced an array of updates for the Xbox 360, making it look more and more like a set-top box alternative. (See Microsoft to Launch Xbox Subscription TV Service.)
Here in the U.S., AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has already enabled the Xbox 360 to deliver its U-verse TV service (you'll need a $99 hardware kit to make it go). Microsoft on Monday unveiled its own plans to add streaming live TV to the console and the Xbox Live service. The enhancements are due this fall, along with an expected tenfold increase in content partners. (See Xbox 360 Joins the U-verse Lineup .)
But Microsoft Xbox Live Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten barely skimmed the surface on how the company intends to package and price those offerings, referencing live TV partners such as Sky TV of the U.K., Canal Plus of France, Foxtel of Australia, Ultimate Fighting Championship events, and the addition of YouTube Inc.
The ESPN logo also made an appearance during the brief demo, but the Xbox 360 already has access to the broadband-only ESPN 3 service; the catch is that you have to subscribe to cable or another traditional pay-TV service to access it. (See ESPN Feeds Fare to the Xbox 360.)
Whitten promised more domestic and international content partnerships. He didn't say if Microsoft would develop subscription TV packages and, in essence, create a virtual MSO that could rival the offerings of cable, satellite and telco TV operators, but a more aggressive expansion into the live TV arena represents a big step in that direction.
In any event, the Xbox 360 is certainly becoming an IP video platform, where service providers could gain entry through integrations and branded buttons akin to what we're used to seeing from Xbox 360 partners like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Hulu Plus.
Microsoft's next, best opportunity to detail any cable MSO partnerships would be next week in Chicago at The Cable Show.
Among other additions announced today, Xbox Live will let consumers use voice commands to search for video content by integrating its Kinect technology with Bing.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable