Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Xbox to deliver cable TV

CNET - The new-look Xbox Live dashboard featuring Comcast programming. (Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s long-rumored plans to bring cable television content to its Xbox video game console will become reality over the holidays.

The software giant announced this morning that nearly 40 television content providers–including Comcast, Verizon, and HBO in the United States–will roll out programming over Xbox Live. The company also has deals lined up with providers in the U.K., Spain, Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Italy.

“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Microsoft first discussed the possibility of bringing cable programming to the Xbox at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June. At the time, the company said it was working on deals to allow customers to use the console to watch movies and television shows, in addition to playing games.

That’s always been the promise of Xbox, since Microsoft first moved into the video game console business a decade ago. Gaming was always at the heart of the console. But the company’s vision for the Xbox was to be a strategic beachhead for its software in the living room. With video programming available through the Xbox, Microsoft gives customers one more reason for turning on the Xbox for all of their living room entertainment, not just gaming.

The new programming announced today won’t be free. Customers need also to be subscribers to HBO, for example, to be able to view its HBO GO programming.               More