Xbox TV deals with HBO, Bravo and others expected as early as next week

By Tom Warren, on 29th Sep 11 2:14 pm with 18 Comments

Xbox LIVE TV service

Microsoft will announce a range of Xbox TV deals as early as next week, according to reports.

The software giant is working on deals with Comcast and Verizon to provide TV channels through its Xbox LIVE service. Microsoft originally announced its plans for an Xbox TV service at the E3 entertainment expo earlier this year. The company announced it was partnering with a number of content providers to stream live TV to the Xbox and planned to announce several partnerships soon. Microsoft has yet to officially confirm which partners will power its Xbox TV service.  Bloomberg news reported on Thursday that Microsoft plans to offer music, sports, movies and TV shows in the U.S. and Europe. The deals will involve channels like HBO, Sony’s Crackle service, Bravo, Syfy and LoveFilm being made available on the Xbox LIVE TV service. Bloomberg says Microsoft may announce the TV streaming deals as soon as next week.

Microsoft is looking to use the Xbox as a distribution device for cable TV and is reportedly working to secure lucrative deals with the biggest cable TV providers in the United States. Microsoft is also looking to partner with TV manufacturers, including Samsung. The alleged plan would see Microsoft supply a Windows Live gaming hub to be pre-installed on Samsung TVs that support a web connection.

Microsoft has been in talks with media companies to produce the  TV service for its Xbox console. Microsoft is proposing a “virtual cable operator” which will be delivered over the Internet and charged with a monthly fee. The software maker has also suggested that cable companies could use the Xbox as a device to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows and interact with their Xbox LIVE friends. Microsoft offers a similar service in the UK where Sky customers can use their Xbox LIVE avatars during sporting events. Xbox LIVE subscribers will likely be charged a premium subscription cost (think monthly) which includes access to the Xbox LIVE Gold features and streaming TV. Microsoft also tried to woo Conan O’Brien into its Xbox LIVE subscription TV service last year.

The Xbox TV service is expected to be rolled into a new Xbox LIVE Diamond subscription. The diamond name comes from the original “Orapa” codename for Xbox TV. The name is based on a small town in the Central District of Botswana. Orapa is the site of one of the biggest diamond mines in the world. Microsoft previously introduced an Xbox LIVE Diamond card in December, 2005. The card gave Xbox LIVE paid subscribers exclusive access to benefits and discounts from stores, restaurants and retailers. The card was eventually discontinued.

  • Joshua Greene

    This is getting to be some epic stuff concerning Xbox.

    • Tom W

      Indeed, looks like MSFT has the clout with Xbox to secure some great deals. Will be interesting to see what they have to offer :)

    • Guest

      Sadly, it’ll probably only reach a very small market

  • GP007

    Wow, this is bigger then I thought.  It’s like the Xbox 360 is the new cable box and MS just became a new cable provider through IPTV.   Instead of making deals with current cable providers like comcast they just signed deals with the channels/content providers directly.  This, technically, just sidesteps comcast and co in the end.

    Though the post says they’re working with comcast and verison, I honestly don’t see why they’d have to?  Don’t comcast and verison themselves have to make deals with the channels/content providers like HBO and Syfy as well?  

    • Anonymous

      This is what i hope for.  I was worried when i saw the last update with Comcast and Verizon as partners.. i don’t want to have to pay for “channel packages”, i just want a-la-carte tv.

      In the end though, i don’t watch live tv, so a zunepass for tv content is all i’ve been wishing for..

    • Anonymous

      Probably because if MS made the deals themselves, they would need to charge like $70 for the services like the cable cos. This way it’s just an extension of the cable subscribers current service. I wonder what would prevent someone from sharing a subscription with a friend?

  • Jason Hughey

    Please let the deal with Comcast/Xfinity go through!  I would love for my cable channels to run through Live simply because the UX for Live seems to be so much better than any cable box UI.  The New ESPN Experience is a good example of how a UX can and should work.  If the implementation of Xbox TV is anything like the New ESPN Experience (which Microsoft developed) then I am sold!

    • Esteban Gonzalez

      for someone like me who dumped cable i’m hoping there is no tie in with Comcast/Verizon or anything that makes the 360 have to pay one of those companies while also paying for the Live subscription.

  • J A

    I just hope the cable TV channels choices are on par with what we already get on set top boxes. That will be sweet and will actually have one returning the STBs with the lousy UIs back to cable companies.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, so I see now that the xbox could replace the cable set-top box.  But what about the content itself?  Will the xbox just provide a different UI on top of the same content you would get with Comcast or Verizon?  What I mean is, do you still have to buy the Verizon cable package from Verizon to use this, or will there be different package options with different prices?  I don’t have cable because I can’t justify the extra 50 or so a month and I don’t think having a different UI through the xbox would change my mind on that.  But if this could be cheaper some how, maybe by letting you choose which stuff you actually want, like sports, then I may bite.  Starting to miss NFL…

  • Guest

    “Microsoft is proposing a “virtual cable operator” which will be delivered over the Internet and charged with a monthly fee”

    Great concept, especially if the price is more attractive than the increasingly ridiculous fees being charged by cable companies. But let me guess, it’ll be US only.

  • Lewis McCrary

    My only concern is the data cap with Comcast.  Surprisingly easy to blow through 250gb.

  • Esteban Gonzalez

    i’ll say it again…a la carte channels.  I’d want the sports networks, hbo and/or showtime and vh1 for the wife.

    but with that said, this definitely sounds better than it did a few weeks ago.

  • Morgan

    This is incredible news however since Time Warner has yet to approve ESPN360, I don’t have much hope that this will get approved through them either. It sucks not having the ability t choose providers in all areas.

  • NativeFloridian

    Based on the screenshot, it appears that MSFT is simply working with the cable providers.  I’d be highly surprised if any of the content could be purchased outside of an already existing cable subscription.  The advantage for the cable company may include the ability to port this XBOX LIVE functionality to the PC and the phone (an area where I think the cable companies are trying to compete better).  I hope I’m wrong.

  • MyNameHere

    I just replaced one of my two older gen Xboxes with an Xbox Slim yesterday, and now I can finally say it is something I won’t mind having on all the time while watching TV. The older Xboxes were just too power hungry and noisy to work as a STB.

    I have TiVo right now, and I assume this will also then take over the PVR functionality. It better be at least as good as TiVo. We’ve had non-TiVo PVRs from time to time but in the end we couldn’t handle the horrible UIs and always end up going back to TiVo.

    Something else… The whole concept of “channels” and the traditional guide needs to go away. The guide as we know it today tells us when a show is being broadcast and on what channel. Instead, we need a guide that simply tells when a show becomes “available”. Once a show becomes available, you can stream it at any time.

    Even today the existing guide doesn’t work for me. If someone asks me when one of my favorite shows airs, or on what channel, I would have no idea. I just searched for the show on TiVo and got a season pass. From time to time I get to TiVo and the show happens to be there. I have no idea when it recorded or on what channel, and I don’t really care.

    Anyway, MS has been going at this TV over Xbox for many years now, long before things like Apple TV even existed. It is about time they push this all the way so that we can finally get rid of the traditional STBes and cable operators.

    • Anonymous

      The concept of “channels” is already gone on the internet. You already go to a user-friendly string for content provider. F.e., “”.

    • MyNameHere

      Yes but not for traditional cable TV, which is what I was referring to.