Microsoft Angling To Be 'Virtual Cable Operator': Report

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Microsoft has approached media companies about creating a subscription-TV service delivered over the Internet to Xbox videogame consoles and other devices, Reuters reported Monday.

It isn't clear which cable networks or programming groups Microsoft may have approached to date. Such a service "may not arrive for another 12 months," according to Reuters, citing two unnamed sources.

Microsoft also is considering creating selling individual channels directly "such as an HBO or Showtime," Reuters reported.

Microsoft already has a deal with ESPN to provide access to to Xbox 360 users with an Xbox Live Gold subscription plan. However, is available only to users of broadband service providers that pay the sports programmer to carry it, and the ESPN and ESPN2 cable networks feature higher-profile programming.

In addition, Microsoft is looking at using the Xbox to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows with "enhanced interactivity," Reuters reported.

Last month, after more than three years in the works, AT&T began letting Xbox 360 users access U-verse TV programming via the videogame console. The telco is the largest customer for the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV platform.