Ever since the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009, Microsoft has been making a big deal about wanting the Xbox 360 to be the center of your entertainment experience in the livingroom. With 2009's introduction of Xbox Live Party and the Primetime channel, Facebook and Twitter and of course Netflix and 2010's introduction of ESPN and enhanced Netflix capabilities, they have been living up to that commitment.
Well, Microsoft wants to take a major step forward with the project in the next 12 months by adding full television stations to their already massive online community. They are looking to go after services like Hulu Plus and Google TV, who already have a following. However, Xbox Live is the most active online community, so it could be pretty easy if they do it right.
For details on what could be available, hit the break.
Speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, two sources involved in the talks for Microsoft said that they have been considering several variants of the service. The primary plan seems to be offering base channels (ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, Fox and NBC) for a small monthly fee (or perhaps a Platinum level of Xbox Live?). They have also been considering group buys, such as family programming or sports, so you can pick and choose the types of content you might want. Also on the table is ala carte, or choosing channel by channel what you want and only paying for the specific networks you will watch.
All of these choices have their merits and their drawbacks. An ala carte option gives them the ability to offer HBO and Showtime for less than cable providers might charge, whereas adding a new Platinum Xbox Live makes the process a lot easier. More people can get in with less hassle. Making people choose what they want to buy makes it less likely they will buy anything.
With so many ideas and so many options on how to accomplish the goal, Microsoft is being very careful. They have had 2 previous interactions with TV in the past and neither have turned out quite as they had hoped. MSNBC, the Microsoft-NBC join venture, has been the under-performer in the news world and does anyone remember WebTV or MSN TV? That one went really well for them, too. They don't want a third strike so there is a lot of consideration here.
The most important factor is the users. Would you use TV service through your Xbox 360? Would it be worth the little extra money to get high speed Internet without a cable subscription to be able to cut the cord on your cable TV? Let us know in the comments section.