Microsoft this morning announced it will partner with over 40 huge media providers to bring all kinds of television and movie content to Xbox Live, beginning this holiday season. We're talking big names like HBO, ABC, Comcast (that's us!), SyFy and many, many more. But before you get too excited, know this: For cable providers, you'll only be able to watch this content if you're already a subscriber to cable. For example, you'll be able to check out HBO content on your 360 only if you're already a subscriber to HBO.
Whether you'll be able to watch a live feed of the content from each partner, Video On Demand, or some combination thereof will depend on the individual deal Microsoft has worked out with the media companies. There will be some level of Kinect and Bing integration as well, but that too will vary, depending on "feature, provider and region."
“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,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft in a press release. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.”
Xbox Live already works with AT&T to provide U-verse service through the 360, so in a sense, that can be seen as a test case for the larger cable providers. AT&T will be adding Kinect voice and gesture control when the dashboard update hits later this year.
"Nearly a year ago, AT&T U-verse became the first TV provider in the U.S. to launch live TV on Xbox 360. Now we look forward to working with Microsoft to deliver even more innovative features that will allow U-verse TV customers to use voice and gesture controls to manage their TV experience," said Jeff Weber, vice president of video services, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.
The new services should be available with the next Xbox Live dashboard update coming before the new year, and right now, Microsoft is not ready to discuss whether all the programming they offer will be available in one app. If I were a psychic, I'd predict that that's the idea. If all this comes to pass in a sensible way, that means you won't have separate dashboard "boxes" for, say, HuluPlus and Netflix, but rather one, integrated app for both those services, plus your Comcast Cable (say). In any case, I hope that's the plan, because that would actually be pretty cool... especially if I could talk to my TV to "change the channel." I, for one, would try to sound like Batman.
Check out this massive list of Entertainment Partners on Xbox 360, existing and new:
• ABC iView – Australia
• AlloCiné – France, Germany, Spain, U.K.
• Antena 3 – Spain
• Astral Media’s Disney XD – Canada
• AT&T** – U.S.
• BBC – U.K.
• blinkbox – U.K.
• Bravo – U.S.
• BSkyB** – U.K.
• Canal+* – France, Spain
• Channel 4 – U.K.
• Channel 5 – U.K.
• CinemaNow (Best Buy) – U.S.
• Comcast – U.S.
• Crackle – Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.
• Dailymotion – Available in 32 markets
• EPIX – U.S.
• ESPN** – U.S.
• Facebook** – Available in all 35 Xbox LIVE markets
• FOXTEL** – Australia
• GolTV – Spain
• HBO GO – U.S.
• Hulu – Japan
• Hulu +**– U.S.
• iHeartRadio (Clear Channel) – U.S.
• Last.fm** – U.K., U.S.
• LOVEFiLM – Germany, U.K.
• Manga Entertainment – U.S.
• Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment/Real Sports – Canada
• MediaSet – Italy
• MSN with MSNBC.com – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, U.K.
• MUZU.TV – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K.
• Netflix**– Canada, U.S.
• Rogers On Demand Online (RODO) – Canada
• RTVE – Spain
• SBS On Demand – Australia
• Syfy – U.S.
• Telefonica – Spain
• Televisa – Mexico
• “The Today Show” – U.S.
• TELUS** – Canada
• TMZ – U.S.
• Twitter** – Available in all 35 Xbox LIVE markets
• UFC – Canada, U.S.
• Verizon – U.S.
• VEVO – Canada, U.K., U.S.
• VimpelCom** – Russia
• Vodafone Portugal** – Portugal
• YouTube – Available in 22 markets
• ZDF – Germany
• Zune** – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain
* Xbox LIVE Gold membership and/or other subscriptions/fees required. Kinect functionality varies by feature, provider and region.
** Denotes existing partners on Xbox LIVE available today.