In recent days, the telecom industry has been buzzing about the possibility that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) could align with Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and cable TV giant Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) to deliver TV programming through the Xbox 360 video game platform via the Xbox Live service. All of the companies reportedly involved have declined comment, but this morning, several media outlets are reporting that an announcement on the plans could come out of Microsoft as early as this week.
Xbox Live video menu (Source: Microsoft)
The announcement, according to Variety, will indeed involve Verizon and Comcast, as well as a handful of content companies that have agreed to provide their programming through the Xbox, including HBO, NBCUniversal's Bravo and Syfy, and Sony's Crackle. The content reportedly will be available on both a video-on-demand and live streaming basis, though don't expect to see all of Verizon's FiOS TV channels available through the gaming platform.
Variety reports that the official launch of the new programming offerings is not expected to happen until the middle of next month, when Microsoft plans to add new features to Xbox Live. The Xbox Live service has about 35 million paid subscribers at this point, almost 10 times the number of video subscribers Verizon has.
Verizon, of course, is not the only telco in league with Microsoft to support such content. AT&T (NYSE: T) already offers a similar option to existing subscribers of its U-verse TV services, as does Canada's Telus (Toronto: T.TO) to its own subscribers, and several other service providers have either tested such services or are waiting to as the Xbox increasingly cements its position as an alternative TV set-top box.
Consumers also have shown great interest in using the gaming platform as a video gateway, and it is likely that the only reason such offerings haven't become more common thus far is that new programming agreements will in many cases need to be forged with the content companies involved.
- read this Variety story
Reports of Xbox video deals have been circulating for days
AT&T launched an Xbox option for U-verse customers last year