Microsoft Corp. plans to offer online pay television service from Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. through Xbox Live, in a bid to channel more entertainment to its video-game console, people with knowledge of the situation said.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., is in talks with almost two dozen providers of music, sports, movies and TV shows in the U.S. and Europe, and may announce an expanded Xbox Live streaming service as soon as this week, said one of the people who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is promoting the Xbox 360 console as a way to switch easily between games, DVDs and pay TV. He said on Sept. 14 that by Christmas, Microsoft will add the Bing search engine to the Xbox and use its Kinect controller’s voice recognition to sift through shows on the Web.
“We all know the frustrations of using guides and menus and controllers, and we think a better way to do all of this is simply to bring Bing and voice to Xbox,” Ballmer said at a developers conference. “You say it, Xbox finds it.”
Microsoft also expects to sign deals with Time Warner Inc.’s HBO cable channel, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Crackle streaming service, NBC Universal’s Bravo and Syfy channels and Lovefilm UK, a subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc., the person said.
Wayne Hickey, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment, as did Bobbi Henson, a spokeswoman for Verizon, and Jennifer Khoury of Comcast, which controls NBC. Greg Belloni, a Sony spokesman, had no immediate comment. Dorothy Jean, a spokeswoman for Lovefilm, declined to comment. An HBO spokesperson declined to comment.
The new applications from Philadelphia-based Comcast’s Xfinity TV service and New York-based Verizon’s FiOS would require users to prove they already are pay-TV customers in regions where the services operate, two of the people said.
The Xbox 360 plays DVDs and video games, and owners can pay $60 a year for the Xbox Live premium service, which allows for multiuser play over the Web. Console owners can also add subscriptions to Netflix Inc.’s and Hulu LLC’s online film and television services, and pay-TV through AT&T Inc.’s U-verse in its markets.
source: http://www.telegram.com/article/2011100 ... 2/business