The upcoming launches of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One will offer consumers more than video-game fun.
The latest 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 set-top boxes, as well as tablets and mobile phones through subscriber authentication codes.
Recent reports have Sony inching close to a deal with Viacom to distribute the programmer’s cable networks, such as MTV, BET and Comedy Central, potentially through its new PlayStation 4 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 pay-per-view event, WWE’s SummerSlam, through its new live events viewer app.
Meanwhile, the Xbox One will offer virtual set-top box features, 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 a controller.
The moves come as more consumers use their gaming consoles for more than just playing NCAA Football 14 and Minecraft. Video-on- demand 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 may 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.