Getting Their Video Games On

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The upcoming launches of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One will offer more than video game fun for consumers.

The new generation of video game consoles may usher in a new and viable platform for consumers to access live content that has been otherwise limited to the set-top box and to tablets and mobile phones though subscriber authentication codes.

Recent reports have Sony inching close to a deal with Viacom to distribute the company’s cable networks such as MTV, BET and Comedy Central potentially through its new PlayStation 4, which is due to hit stores in November.

Sony’s PS3 already offers authenticated TV Everywhere services from such networks as Epix and HBO, and just two weeks ago offered its first live pay-per-view event, the WWE’s annual SummerSlam extravaganza, through its new live events viewer app.

Meanwhile, the Xbox One will virtually offer set-top box features by allowing viewers to watch cable services via a protected HDMI pass-thru option. Xbox users could soon be able to seamlessly switch between Duck Dynasty and Madden 25 via voice commands or through a controller.

The moves come as more consumers use their gaming consoles for more than just playing NCAA Football 14 and Minecraft. VOD and streaming services accounted for 22% of overall time spent with PlayStation3, Wii and Xbox 360 in 2012, up from 19% in 2011 and 13% in 2010, according to Nielsen. PS3 users in particular are gravitating even more quickly toward video streaming, spending 24% of their console time last year on video content, up from 15% in 2011.

So when little Johnny unwraps his shiny new PlayStation 4 this Christmas, he might be as inclined to stream episodes of  Spongebob SquarePants through the gaming console as he would to control the popular character in the latest Nickelodeon video game.

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