Hulu Plus is more than a little disappointing, Apple TV is nothing but a punchline, and Google TV is being blocked by the networks. You’re not out of options, though. Microsoft is bringing TV right to your videogame system.
Just when I thought that console makers had accomplished everything they could during this generation of hardware, Microsoft is pulling out all the stops. According to Reuters, there’s a subscription based TV service coming to the Xbox 360 within the next year.
Don’t confuse this with the ability to use the Xbox 360 as a set-top box for U-verse. This is a completely separate service offered directly from Microsoft. You’ll be able to drop your cable provider and go straight through Microsoft.
The plan, according to people in the know, is to start people off with a very basic package that includes channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the rest of the usual suspects. From there, customers will be able to add on channels for an additional cost, including premium channels like Showtime.
Tiered plans like those offered by cable and satellite providers will be available, as will bundles for those who want a full range of similar channels, like sports or children’s shows.
From the sound of things, this is going to be live television and not a Hulu-style option. If that’s the case, it seems incredibly likely that you’ll be able to use your Xbox 360 as a DVR for recording shows and movies.
There’s a tremendous amount of potential in the new service. Giving consumers the option of a la carte programming would almost certainly benefit them financially, and would ensure that everyone can get the programming they want.
I’m certainly excited about having the option in the future. Both televisions in my apartment have Xbox 360s under them, and I’d be more than willing to ditch the 200 or so channels I get from Comcast for a hopefully cheaper package of only the TV I actually want.
It’s still a long way off. Microsoft is still talking with networks to get it all figured out, but we should be hearing something more definite by this time next year.