Canal+ to stream channels to Xbox 360
By Robert Briel
Published: October 10, 2010 19.58 Europe/London

Microsoft has struck a deal with Canal+ to stream TV channels to the Xbox 360 game console via the Xbox Live online service. Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft, and Bertrand Méheut, chairman Canal+, announced the deal at a news conference in Paris.

The agreement means that the Xbox 360 will act as a decoder for all Canal+ premium channels as well as the bouquet of CanalSat thematic channels. Owners of the game console already have access to a few selected services from Canal, the VOD service Canal+ à la demande, Infosport, Foot+ and games on CanalPlay. The new feature will become available as soon as December. “We will soon be on 1.8 million to 2 million Xboxes in France,” said Méheut.

Owners of the box can now directly subscribe to the premium channels Canal+ Cinéma, Canal+ Sport , Canal+ Décalé and Canal+ Family as well as 60 channels from CanalSat. Using Microsoft’s Kinect feature, viewers can change channels without the use of a remote control – just by waving their hand.

Another interesting feature will be that Xbox users will be able to connect to other people subscribing to the Canal+ channels and exchange comments about the programmes they watch.

Microsoft already has a similar tie-ups with a few broadcasters, in the US with ESPN and with Sky in the UK, where owners of the box can access the Sky Player service via their set-top. The company is expected to sign more agreements with broadcasters in other markets.

In the US, Microsoft has also tied-up with AT&T to provide their U-Verse streaming TV service. However, this service will not directly stream to the box as people have to buy an additional set-top.

In Portugal, Vodafone has added its Vodafone Casa TV service to the Xbox 360 last year, making it possible for people to view live and on demand content from the Casa platform.