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Xbox Gets Set-Toppy With Cable Deal

Xbox Gets Set-Toppy With Cable Deal

The Microsoft Xbox 360 will soon become a cable box. Deals with cable providers like Verizon and Comcast will allow users to stream select content directly to their gaming console. However, this deal isn't a win for cable-cutters -- those who want to ditch subscription cable in favor of Internet-delivered programming. In order to access most content, a user has to be an existing cable subscriber.

By Rachelle Dragani E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
10/05/11 3:19 PM PT

Verizon and Microsoft are teaming up to bring new FiOS TV-powered entertainment offerings to the Xbox 360 gaming console, a move that highlights the rapid expansion of diverse content across multiple platforms.

The deal will use Verizon's FiOS TV application to allow Xbox Live Gold members to watch live TV from participating partners through their video game consoles. Comcast will add its Xfinity TV video on-demand channels in the coming months, and other participants include HBOGo, Bravo, Crackle, TMZ, Syfy, UFC and "The Today Show."

The service will be open to cable subscribers only, so a Verizon customer would need the FiOS TV and broadband service in addition to Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold in order to stream through an Xbox. The target market, then, is presumably a young demographic that owns a video console but doesn't pay for extended cable in addition to basic cable or standard TV.

"At this point, the targets are Xbox users in FiOS territory, along with FiOS customers who use Xbox, or may intend to use Xbox," Bobbi Henson, public relations director at Verizon Communications, told the E-Commerce Times.

Coming to a Console Near You

There will be some free content available, however. Channels such as YouTube, MSN and Vevo will be available with no charge for Xbox 360 owners.

The limited variety of free content, however, and the restrictions on geographical areas and implementation of the programs is an indication this service could take a while to roll out and catch on with mainstream users.

Representatives from Microsoft did not respond to the E-Commerce Times' requests for comment by press time.

The Future of Entertainment

The companies heralded the new offerings as the future of combining content across platforms.

"We do believe that this is a glimpse into the future of devices. Our focus at Verizon is to put technology into people's hands that frees them to access information, entertainment, people -- their whole world -- via the devices they most like to use," said Henson.

It's a concept Verizon's tagged the "Borderless Lifestyle," and is in line with industry trends in streamlining content across platforms. Services like Apple's iCloud are designed make sure that consumers can watch video, play games, use apps, stream TV shows and listen to music across multiple devices once designed for a single purpose.

"The industry is at a point, a size and scale, where there always seems to be something coming, and the competition always seems to have something coming, so they're moving towards expanding and pushing borders of traditional technology," Edward Zabitsky, prinicpal and CEO at ACI research told the E-Commerce Times.

The amount of content available on those devices is only likely to grow, as content partnerships with companies such as Netflix, Apple TV and Hollywood studios get on board with streaming. As offerings expand, so will the number of devices with the ability for advanced streaming.

"The number of connectible devices is growing rapidly, and people's favorite devices will differ. We aim to create solutions that give customers what they want and need, on their terms, no matter what the device or platform they use," said Henson.


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