Verizon part of Microsoft’s Xbox video programming team
Microsoft adds a bunch of new content as it gets ready to (at last) compete with Apple, Google, Amazon and other Web/mobile content players with a deep programming play
In a week when it tossed out its Zune hardware business (MDP: Microsoft kills Zune hardware, tweaks subs to compete in mobile music), Microsoft as expected doubled down on two other devices as the future of its content business: Xbox and Windows Phone.
Today, Microsoft announced that almost 40 television content providers--including Comcast, Verizon, and HBO in the United States--will roll out programming accessible via Xbox Live. The company also has deals lined up with providers in the U.K., Spain, Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Italy.
Due to the cable- and telco-heavy nature of these deals, we’re talking mainly “TV Everywhere”-style content here, with subscribers required to have existing content subscriptions which will then be authenticated into the Xbox environment.
Like other gaming systems, including the PS3 and Wii, Xbox users already have access to some video content streamed to the console, such as Netflix. But today’s deal drastically increases the mix of content available and sees Microsoft placing a much clearer bet on becoming a content provider on its go-to Xbox and Windows Phone devices.
For now, Microsoft’s “other” touchstone device, its Windows Phone platform, will have a limited role in its latest content play, gaining the ability to act as a remote control for scrolling through and accessing content on the Xbox.
But it isn’t much of a stretch to see Microsoft extending the ability to view content from its new TV Anywhere relationships out to the mobile device as well.
In the past, the software provider was at least somewhat reluctant to jump head-first into content programming, at least in part due to its interest in selling its Media Room software platform to cable and telco vendors. At this point, however, Microsoft needs to craft its own online and mobile content play, or risk being overwhelmed by rivals including Apple, Google, Amazon and others.
Today’s news basically positions Xbox as an alternative set-top for access cable/telco TV content. There will be some non-premium content that users can access for free, including: YouTube, AlloCine, Dailymotion, iHeartRadio, MSN with MSNBC.com, The Today Show, TMZ and VEVO.
For providers like Verizon, whose FiOS TV programming will be made available through the Xbox, a deal with Microsoft represents just another path to the consumer. Verizon subscribers, for instance, will have to subscribe to FiOS TV and broadband service a well as Microsoft’s $60 per year Xbox Live Gold service to access the content (CP: Verizon and Microsoft Announce New FiOS TV-Powered Entertainment Experience Coming Soon to Xbox 360).
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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