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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 05, 2011

Xbox to Become More Like Cable Box in Time for Holiday Season

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

Microsoft (News - Alert) announced today that its Xbox 360 is expected to evolve into something more like a cable box – as in the ability to use the game system as a cable box/streaming video service.  And it will be available in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company will roll out new TV services where “entertainment becomes instantly searchable and enjoyable in extraordinary new ways,” according to Microsoft officials, who said that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS (News - Alert) and Syfy in the U.S.; BBC in the U.K., Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and MediaSet in Italy, will begin rolling out entertainment services to the console.

“But let’s be clear about what this is,” reported All Things D, “an extension of the ‘TV Everywhere’/’authentication’ concept that lets cable subscribers watch programming via alternate delivery systems.”

Although the Xbox 360 will become similar to a cable box, it won’t be the kind that you get from your local company or satellite, according to Slashgear. “It will be more of an extension of TV anywhere that many networks like HBO and Cinemax already allow subscribers to do with apps on smartphones and tablets.”

Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s president of Interactive Entertainment Business, said the announcement is a “major step” toward realizing Microsoft’s vision of bringing “all the entertainment you want” that can be easily shared.

“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,” Mattrick said in a statement.

As we noted above, Microsoft will team up with Comcast and Verizon (News - Alert) FiOS, as well as a variety of content providers, to bring the companies’ services to its Xbox Live platform. As All Things D pointed out, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (News - Alert) has been “promoting the Xbox 360 console as a way to switch easily between games, DVDs and pay TV — not as a way to ditch cable, which is why cable providers and programmers like Comcast (News - Alert) and Verizon are working with him.”

Microsoft officials said the Xbox 360 is the first console to offer access to some of the world’s greatest TV properties including: BBC; Channel 4; Channel 5 and LOVEFiLM in the U.K.; Antena 3, RTVE and Telefónica in Spain; Televisa in Mexico; and Bravo, Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service, Crackle, EPIX, Syfy, TMZ, “The Today Show,” UFC, Verizon FiOS and HBO GO in the U.S.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell