Back at E3 2011, Microsoft announced a new evolution of the Xbox 360 console. Following the huge success of their Kinect motion control peripheral, the console developer was looking to hold on to all those new-found casual gamers by turning the Xbox 360 into a one-stop shop for home entertainment.

Where the PS3 touts a blu-ray player and free online play, Microsoft hinted that improvements to the Xbox Live subscription service would bring about more social networking capabilities, a better user interface, and (most notably) a TV service – a service that many subscribers hoped could replace their cable subscription altogether. Now that the necessary dashboard update is almost here, Microsoft has started offering new, albeit still vague, details about the aforementioned TV offerings. Many will see the service as a step in the right direction, while others will no doubt feel as though TV on Xbox Live is too limited to be worth their time.

Microsoft has been surprisingly quiet about the new TV service element – especially considering how specific they’ve been about other added features such as cloud saves and improved Kinect integration into the dashboard. Obviously software features are more readily under the company’s control – however, the lack of information surrounding the TV service has led many of us to wonder whether or not Microsoft had all of the necessary agreements sewed-up when they announced the service back in June. It’s possible that, even though it was sold as an all encompassing offering, the networks and content providers weren’t as ready to openly embrace Microsoft and provide loads of free content. Instead, the TV service sounds more like a marketing buffet of both enticing and throwaway clips, full length shows, and live events.

Xbox 360 New Dashboard 2011 Video

Here’s how Microsoft executive Mark Whitten put it:

“Building upon our great lineup of partners, we’ve teamed up with nearly 40 of the world’s leading TV & entertainment providers to bring you an array of live and on-demand TV, movies, games, sports and music experiences.”

As for what players can expect from the service once they update – as well as in the coming months, here’s the full run-down of announced content:

Dec. 6:
–    EPIX. United States
–    ESPN on Xbox LIVE (ESPN). United States
–    Hulu. Japan
–    Hulu Plus. United States
–    LOVEFiLM. United Kingdom
–    Netflix. Canada, United States
–    Premium Play by (MediaSet). Italy
–    Sky Go (SkyDE). Austria, Germany
–    Telefónica España — Movistar Imagenio. Spain
–    TODAY (MSNBC). United States

Later in December:
–    4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom
–    ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia
–    AlloCiné. France (AlloCiné), Germany (Filmstarts), Spain (Sensacine), United Kingdom (Screenrush)
–    Astral Media’s Disney XD (Astral Media). Canada
–    blinkbox (Blinkbox). United Kingdom
–    Crackle (Sony Pictures). Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States
–    Dailymotion. Available in 32 countries globally
–    Demand 5 (Five). United Kingdom
–    DIGI+ (CANAL+). Spain
–    GolTV (Mediapro). Spain
–    iHeartRadio (Clear Channel). United States
–    Mediathek/ZDF (ZDF). Germany
–    MSN. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom
–    MSNBC.com. United States
–    MUZU.TV. Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
–    ninemsn. Australia
–    Real Sports (Maple Leaf Sports). Canada
–    Rogers On Demand Online (Rogers Media). Canada
–    SBS ON DEMAND. Australia
–    TMZ (Warner Bros.). Canada, United States
–    TVE (RTVE.es). Spain
–    UFC on Xbox LIVE (UFC). Canada, United States
–    Verizon FiOS TV. United States
–    VEVO. Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States
–    Vudu (Wal-Mart). United States
–    YouTube. Available in 24 countries globally

Early 2012:
–    Antena 3 (Antena 3 de Televisión). Spain
–    BBC (BBC). United Kingdom
–    CinemaNow (Best Buy). United States
–    HBO GO (HBO). United States
–    MLB.TV (MLB Advanced Media). Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
–    Telenovelas/Sports (Televisa). Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom
–    Xfinity On Demand (Comcast). United States

One look at the new new TODAY content from MSNBC seems to hint at a lot of featured clips targeted at Xbox Live’s demographics. Watching TODAY live through Xbox Live is not yet a current feature – nor is watching full episodes of that particular programming (at the time of writing).

While there’s no way of knowing how the service will evolve overtime, at this point it’s likely that external paid services (such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, MLB.TV, and Xfinity on Demand) will still be the most useful application of the Xbox Live TV service – but, no doubt, this is only the beginning of what could be a long-term plan from Microsoft.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Sources: Press releases for the Xbox Live Dashboard Update and the Xbox Live TV service.

 

tags: Kinect, Microsoft

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