Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Goodbye Settop, Hello XBox

So many boxes eager to help you cut the cable cord and enjoy web-based programming. And Microsoft, who in the late 90's invested heavily in Comcast, seems to be rethinking its relationship to push its own platform. "The company also unveiled plans to allow Xbox users to control live television feeds, search YouTube and play video games with voice commands." Should Comcast and the other cable operators be concerned with this news?

"Perhaps one of the biggest entertainment additions to the Xbox will be UFC. Starting this fall, Xbox Live Gold Members will be able to subscribe to UFC to access live pay-per-view matches, classic fights, interviews and behind-the-scenes bonus features. Microsoft said Live TV would be offered by domestic and international broadcasters, but had no other details at the time of the announcement. While Live TV for Xbox 360 is offered in other countries, the service will unveiled Monday would be the first such offering for a game console in the US. Xbox 360 already has the ability to stream and download movies and shows, however." So now Microsoft is competing with cable for a share of their PPV audience. And reaching directly to broadcasters to enable digital access through their device. I wonder, would NBC ever agree to distribution through the XBox or would Comcast try to prevent it? Certainly a question that one day could find itself in front of the FCC.

The cable platform continues to take many hits from the CE industry. Once cable operators refused to play nicely, they continue to find ways to bypass the settop box to directly touch the consumer. The XBox Live platform may one day be the architect of how consumers watch programming and simultaneously interact with it and other viewers. For now, it looks like a good start.