Following the trend to turn gaming consoles into multimedia entertainment powerhouses, Microsoft will soon bring live streaming TV to the X-box 360.
"This is the year live television comes to Xbox 360," Microsoft Vice President Marc Whitten, head of X-box Live, said during a keynote address at the E3 show in Los Angeles.
An agreement with YouTube will kick things off, but Whitten said Microsoft plans to increase its partnerships for the service by a factor of 10. "This is only the beginning," he said.
Xbox Live is also adding Bing to enable smart searches for video content with Bing--meaning online video sites, YouTube, Live TV and the on-demand services Microsoft already partners with, meaning Netflix and Hulu Plus. Voice control will be added to aid content discovery, and will allow users to speak rather than say the name of a movie, TV show, or game.
"You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content," said Whitten.
If the deal smacks of the Google TV model, one would be correct. Google had a similar aggregation strategy that it insisted would enhance a pay-TV provider's in-home proposition, but it famously has been blocked by many content providers-- including the top 4 networks in the United States--over fears of piracy and cannibalisation. Microsoft's anouncement with only YouTube on board may speak to the difficulty of securing carrage deals for new digital platforms.
Microsoft is busy also striking deals with operators around the world to act as a STB, meanwhile. Deals with Canal+ in France, BSkyB in the U.K. and Russian IPTV provider Beeline TV could all be signs of things to come in the United States