Cable Operators

Comcast, FiOS TV Tune Into Xbox

10/10/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Comcast and Verizon Communications
officially announced that they’re
hooking up with Microsoft to let TV customers
use the Xbox 360 game console as a set-top box
later this year — but for now, Comcast subs
will only be able to access video-on-demand
content, while FiOS TV will offer just a few
“popular” channels rather than the full programming
lineup.

AT&T U-verse TV has offered the Xbox-as-aset-
top option to customers, with access to all
content and DVR recordings, since October
2010.

Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service will
be available “in the coming months,” according
to a blog post by chief technology officer
Tony Werner.

The cable operator’s subscribers will be able
to access “several thousand assets from our
VOD library — including top movies and premium
cable,” spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said.

Verizon and Comcast customers must take
both TV and broadband services as well as subscribe
to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service,
which costs $60 per year, but otherwise the services
are available for no extra charge.

Verizon, for its part, will offer a limited content
selection of 26 live channels, including
MTV, Spike, Food
Network, Comedy
Central, HBO,
CNN and Nickelodeon.
“We aim
to have a diverse
selection of popular
channels,”
Verizon public
relations director
Bobbi Henson
said.

The big advantage both Comcast and Verizon
are touting is integration with Xbox Kinect,
the “controller-less” attachment for the
console, which lets users control screen activity
with voice commands or gestures.

“Through our partnership with Microsoft,
we’ll offer our customers a unique and innovative
way to discover, control and experience
thousands of on-demand programs from leading
networks and studios, using unique features
like Kinect’s voice and gesture controls,” Werner
said. “And, because Xfinity TV’s Xbox experience
is built on a private IP platform, we can
deliver a more personal and integrated, nextgeneration
experience.”

Verizon similarly noted that using Xbox 360,
“FiOS customers will be able to easily discover
and enjoy content in extraordinary new ways,
all without having
to pick up a remote
control.”

Eric Bruno, Verizon
vice president
of consumer
and mass business
product management,
said in a
statement, “FiOS
TV on the Xbox 360
will tap into the magic
of Kinect to transform the way people interact
with TV, providing a game-changing entertainment
experience for our customers.”

Both Comcast and Verizon will distribute the
video programming to Xbox consoles via IP, delivered
over their private broadband networks,
so that customers will not need any additional
hardware besides a broadband-connected
Xbox. Verizon normally delivers FiOS TV linear
channels to its own set-tops using digital cable
QAM technology, as of course does Comcast.

Internationally, operators that provide video
through Xbox include the U.K.’s Sky TV, France’s
Canal Plus, Australia’s Foxtel and Canada’s
Telus. Microsoft also has lined up several content
partners for Xbox, including ESPN, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Ultimate Fighting
Championship.

September