Hyping its Xbox 360 gaming console as "the entertainment center of the living room," Microsoft announced that it has struck new partnerships with nearly 40 content owners and pay-TV operators worldwide, including HBO, Bravo, Syfy, NBC's Today, Comcast and Verizon in the U.S.
Both Comcast and Verizon separately announced their Xbox hookups Tuesday. The cable operator plans to make several thousand video-on-demand titles available via the console, while FiOS TV subscribers will be able to access a selection of 26 live TV channels.
Internationally, new Xbox pay-TV partners include: Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and MediaSet in Italy.
On the content front, Xbox 360 will add access for U.S. subscribers to its Xbox Live service to content from Bravo, Crackle, Epix, Syfy, TMZ, NBC's Today, UFC, and HBO Go. Non-U.S. content partners include: the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and LoveFilm in the U.K.; Antena 3, RTVE and Telefónica in Spain; Televisa in Mexico.
"Our ongoing goal is to deliver HBO's acclaimed programming to our subscribers wherever and whenever they want it, and this relationship with Microsoft is another huge step in accomplishing just that," Bernadette Aulestia, senior vice president of domestic network distribution and marketing for HBO, said in a statement. "HBO Go on Xbox is also a marriage of two pre-eminent brands - both with a reputation for delivering the highest quality of entertainment."
HBO Go is available only to subscribers of the premium network, through affiliates that have deals with HBO. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems are the two largest pay-TV providers that do not offer HBO Go.
The software giant is also adding Web video, news and music content, including from AlloCiné, Dailymotion, iHeartRadio, MSN with MSNBC.com, The Today Show, TMZ, Vevo and YouTube.
Microsoft noted that its existing operator and entertainment partners include AT&T U-verse, ESPN, Netflix and Hulu Plus in the U.S., Telus in Canada, BSkyB in the U.K., Canal+ in France, Vodafone Portugal, VimpelCom in Russia, and Foxtel in Australia.
"Today's announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy," Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, said in a statement. "Combining the world's leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless."
The Kinect for Xbox 360 gesture- and voice-recognition peripheral provides search and discovery of content using voice search with Bing on Xbox; for example, a user can say "Xbox, Bing, 'The Office,'" to find recent episodes of the NBC show.
Xbox 360 also lets users share recommendations, and show other Xbox Live members what games they're playing, movies they're watching or music they're listening to as well as invite friends to join in. According to Microsoft, Xbox Live has nearly 35 million members in 35 countries.