The other day, at the Microsoft financial analyst meeting in Anaheim, the company’s CEO Steve Ballmer gave a presentation demonstrating the glory that is Xbox TV, which will supposedly offer television content to Xbox 360 owners (and probably Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers). What content? At what price?
We don’t know.
Anyway, apparently the new service will integrate the Xbox Kinect’s voice controls, which is really, really fun. I love yelling out, “Xbox Pause!” when I need to hit the can, rather than simply pushing a button. Which burns more calories—pushing the button, or yelling at your TV? I need a report on that.
According to a post on CNN, Ballmer explained how the Kinect works with Bing (of course it’s Bing) to search for content:
“Having all of that content is right on, it’s fantastic, but it brings a new challenge with it…Certainly 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. You say it, Xbox finds it.”
Ballmer said that Xbox TV will provide “news, sports, and your favorite channels,” and that Microsoft is partnering with “dozens or hundreds of additional video content suppliers.”
That’s not at all vague, no. Dozens. Or, you know, hundreds.
Again, there are no real concrete details as to how this will all work. The CNN article goes to David Wertheimer, the executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, who theorizes the model that Microsoft will be following with the service:
“Wertheimer believes that instead of trying to license content from providers like News Corp. (NWS), Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500), Disney (DIS, Fortune 500), and CBS (CBS, Fortune 500) themselves, Microsoft will instead use a ‘TV Everywhere’ model, in which existing cable and satellite subscribers will be able to access their content on the Xbox.”
And there’s the rub. Will this simply be an extra layer of cable service on top of service you already have? Is this nothing more than adding Kinect voice-search to your TV watching? Or will this provide content for users that they won’t already be able to get through cable? For instance, I have an internet connection through my city’s cable company, but I have no cable service. Because it’s Comcast, I have access to ESPN content through the Xbox, and I can watch Netflix and Hulu, but so far I haven’t been able to watch live coverage of pro-sports teams. I want my Jets football, God dammit! Will Xbox TV hook me up?
Guess we’ll find out this Christmas, when the service is supposedly going to launch.