Microsoft is rumored to bring a pay television service through Xbox Live as early as next week, according to a Bloomberg report. The content will include movies, music, sports and TV shows.
Microsoft is expected to partner with Comcast and Verizon Communication as well as sign deals with Time Warner, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment's Crackle streaming service, NBC Universal's Bravo as well as the Syfy channel and Lovefilm UK. However, spokesmen for all the companies are keeping mum for the moment.
This is the latest effort by Microsoft to put a more varied array of entertainment of the hit console.
Xbox Live users already pay $60 a year for a Gold membership that allows them to play with other gamers over the Internet. On top of that, Netflix subscribers can already stream its online library through Xbox Live as the service was the first to stream movies and TV to XBoxes.
However, Netflix has angered customers earlier this summer with the announcement that it will be splitting its online streaming service and DVD-by-mail service. Many customers have cancelled their Netflix accounts and Xbox may be trying to capitalize on the exodus.
Hulu Plus also has a service on Xbox Live that allows users to watch TV shows and movies on Xbox, though the content available is limited. Xbox Users can also buy or rent individual movies and TV Shows on the Xbox's Zune Marketplace.
Along with the news that more TV will come to the Xbox, players will also get a new way to control it. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Microsoft will add its Bing search engine to Xbox complete with voice recognition control. The feature requires the Kinect peripheral ($150) which uses the built-in Kinect microphone.
We all know the frustrations of using guides and menus and controllers, and we think a better way to do all of this is simply to bring Bing and voice to Xbox, Ballmer said at a developers' conference.
Microsoft reported last June that 35 million people currently subscribe to Xbox Live service, averaging 60 hours a month playing games or watching TV and movies.
Cable providers have been steadily losing subscribers with competition from the Internet and have been looking for new ways to attract customers. Appealing to paying subscribers across different media might be the answer they are looking for. Comcast currently has 22.5 million pay-TV service subscribers and Verizon has 3.8 million.