As had been rumored for some time, Microsoft announced yesterday that it will expand the video content available over its Xbox Live system to pay-TV subscribers in most major markets. Microsoft has deals in place with nearly 40 entertainment providers including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon FiOS, as well as Bravo, ESPN, HBO GO and Syfy. This is in addition to the inherent gaming services and previously announced content from Hulu Plus, Netflix and Google’s YouTube which are available on the Xbox.
Pay-TV subscribers will need to authenticate in order to access the content through the Xbox system. In general, users also will need to subscribe to video and broadband services from their traditional service provider (in other words, cord cutting is not an option), and subscribe to a $60 per year Xbox Live Gold membership. (Microsoft confirmed today that only a small amount of content will be available on the Xbox without authentication and Xbox Gold status.) Read more
AT&T U-verse subscribers will have the ability to access service via the Xbox 360 as of October 15.
Current U-verse subscribers may access video service after they have downloaded and installed special software onto their Xbox. New U-verse subscribers will be required to purchase an Xbox kit with the download for $99. The software will enable the Xbox to access live TV, manage and playback DVR recordings and navigate on-demand content and interactive applications. Read more
Canada’s second largest telco Telus is allowing subscribers to its IPTV service to use a Microsoft XBox 360 game console as a set-top box, an option which AT&T says it will offer its U-verse subscribers by year-end.
Optik TV customers can use the game console to:
- Watch any of Optik TV’s over 400 digital channels, including over 50 in HD
- Watch any shows they have recorded on their Optik HD PVR digital box
- Use PVR Anywhere to record up to 3 live shows simultaneously from any room
- Pause a recorded program in one room and pick it up from the same spot in a different room
- Get PVR functionality from any TV when watching recorded programs – pause, replay, rewind, fast-forward.
To utilize the XBox 360 as a set-top, Optik TV subscribers must have an HD DVR from the telco. In addition, a Telus technician must visit a customer’s home to install the required software and configure each Xbox 360 for the service. Read more
Microsoft Corp. premiered the “Kinect” for Xbox 360 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) amid great fanfare and a live performance by Cirque de Soleil. The Kinect device, known in development as “Project Natal,” ushers in a new era affording “controller free” games and entertainment. In a press release, Microsoft heralded the entry as “transforming the way the world plays, entertains and connects with friends and family.” Kinect for Xbox 360 officially rolls out to consumers in the United States on November 4. Availability in other parts of the world will follow shortly after that date.
A recent study by The Diffusion Group has determined that roughly one third of households in the United States with broadband service have a video game console connected to the Internet. It is the opinion of some that game consoles are likely the solution of choice for delivery of mainstream over-the-top (OTT) video content.