In the build-up to the release of the Xbox One, Microsoft focused heavily on the role of the console as an all-in-one media station. The tech giant stated that its then-new console would provide users with a wealth of content outside of gaming, and the Xbox One’s Snap feature would make transitioning between media types all the easier. Unfortunately for Xbox owners, when the console did launch, the promised additional media functionality appeared to be a missing feature.
Thankfully, Microsoft has tried to follow up on its early promises with further updates to its console. Although home-grown content now appears to be on the back burner after the closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios, the publisher has kept pushing the Xbox One’s ability to play other media through the arrival of a media player and USB support. Now, Microsoft has announced that Xbox One owners will be able to watch over-the-air TV directly on their consoles.
The Xbox One will now be home to broadcast television, alongside its current ranks of on-demand apps and USB support. The news was revealed at the Xbox website, with details on how to use the new service. Microsoft has signed a partnership with electronics manufacturer Hauppauge to create a new digital TV tuner. Initially, the set will retail at $79.99, and users will also require a digital television antenna to have access to the likes of CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS.
At the moment, on-the-air TV is not quite for everyone, as Microsoft is initially opening up the console’s newfound ability to US and Canadian residents who are signed up to the Xbox One Preview Program. The publisher is going to expand the service over the coming months, and is also planning to release a lower-cost $59.99 Xbox One TV tuner, again with Hauppauge. There will also be further support for digital television abroad, with 11 countries gaining access to the European Digital TV Tuner.
The on-air TV ability comes with a number of other updates. Broadcast television will be functional with Xbox Snap, allowing users to watch TV on the right-hand side of their screen whilst playing games or using apps. Meanwhile, viewers will be able to pause live TV for up to 30 minutes. Those looking forward to watching on-air TV on their Xbox One should be savvy, though, as the number of channels and quality of picture will vary from zip code to zip code.
This further strengthens the Xbox One’s additional media content. Alongside the aforementioned cable and satellite box functionality, and on-demand apps like Hulu Plus and Netflix, the console is also home to Sling TV, the cable-alternative internet television system. The service is exclusive for the Xbox One, and was revealed in January. Between Sling and over-the-air programming, Microsoft will be hoping that owners will now never need to go to another device.