Flavor of the Week: Xbox 360

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THE HYPE: Xbox nation last week
got access to a trio of subscription
video services — no cable set-top
required — with the debut of
voice-controlled TV apps on the Microsoft
game console for Comcast
video-on-demand, HBO Go and
MLB.TV. According to Microsoft,
entertainment usage now has surpassed multiplayer
gaming on Xbox Live, with U.S. members spending an
average of 84 hours per month on the service.

WHAT IT MEANS: The expanded TV content is part of
Microsoft’s push to make the console the one-stop box
for all forms of digital entertainment. Xbox already had
added access to ESPN3.com, YouTube, Netfl ix, Verizon
FiOS TV, Epix, Vudu and other services. But in a minicontroversy
that indicates the
rules of the new over-the-top road
are in flux, public-interest groups
complained that Comcast will
not subject VOD viewed on Xbox
toward its 250-Gigabyte monthly
usage caps whereas Internetbased
video services are. The
MSO responded that the cap doesn’t apply in this case
because the Xbox functions as another set-top, and because
the content does not traverse the public Internet.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY: Xbox Live Gold, required for accessing
the video options, is $60 per year. HBO Go on
Xbox is available for no additional cost through participating
affiliates. MLB.TV Premium is $124.99 per year
or $24.99 per month.