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.