A new Xbox TV service, announced by Microsoft this morning, aims to give the company’s Xbox 360 game console a larger role in the living room by making it a hub for live and on-demand content from providers such as Comcast, Verizon FiOS, HBO, Bravo and others.
Basic access to the service won’t cost extra for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. But don’t go cutting that cord just yet, because in many situations the most desirable content will require a separate cable subscription.
In the case of Comcast, for example, users will still need to be an Xfinity TV customer and have at least one cable box to use the Xfinity video on-demand service via Microsoft’s Xbox Live. It’s similar in that way to existing video on-demand service through the cable box.
Verizon also says its service on Xbox Live will be available only to its FiOS subscribers. Verizon’s content will include selected live television channels.
With the new content partnerships, Microsoft is aiming to extend the Xbox 360 well beyond video games, building on its existing entertainment offerings such as Netflix, Hulu and ESPN. Through the new Xbox TV service, the company will also be adding web content from sources including AlloCiné, Dailymotion, iHeartRadio, YouTube, TMZ, and its own MSN and msnbc.com.
Microsoft say the new Xbox TV service will launch this holiday season, although Comcast gives a looser timeframe of “in the coming months” for the Xfinity integration.
Xbox TV will work through a newly streamline Xbox Live dashboard, integrated with Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for navigating the menus with voice controls and gestures. Content from specific providers will be available in apps accessed via the dashboard.
Here’s a gallery of screenshots. (Click for larger versions.)