Offering a live TV lineup that is close to Time Warner Cable’s full linear subscription TV offering was a key early goal for the MSO as it developed its app for the Xbox 360 console. The app, launched Tuesday, offers up to 300 linear TV channels, depending on the market.
“We want to deliver as much of the set-top experience as we can through the [Xbox 360] to customers,” said Mike Angus, TWC’s senior vice president and general manager of video, noting that the MSO views this approach as a differentiator on the console. “It is our goal, unlike what we’ve seen with others, to offer as comprehensive an offering as we can.”
Those others include TWC competitor Verizon FiOS TV, which offers a subset of its live TV lineup to the Xbox 360. Comcast’s Xbox 360 app, meanwhile, is limited to VOD.
But TWC still has some work ahead of it to achieve its longer-term goal for the platform.
The technical integration of TWC’s VOD service is underway. “Offering 300 live channels in and of itself is very compelling and very compelling when you combine it with Kinect and the voice commands and the social features,” Angus said. “We expect to have VOD up and running within the next six months or so.”
That’ll make the Xbox 360 the first CE platform to offer both live and on-demand video services from TWC, though others will certainly follow. Samsung Smart TVs currently offer VOD from TWC, but will be adding live TV as well.
Pumping video through the console fits in with the trend on gaming consoles. Blair Westlake, the corporate VP of Microsoft’s media and entertainment group, recalled that video usage surpassed multiplayer gaming on the Xbox 360 in the spring of 2012.
And TWC is not delivering video to the Xbox 360 “over-the-top,” but over a managed IP connection.
“This is not an Internet product,” Angus said. “This is in-home delivery, no different in many respects than QAM delivery to a set-top box. It’s just a different format.”
So, other than that coming VOD integration, what else is on the horizon for Microsoft and TWC?
They aren’t saying much yet when it comes to how they’ll work together when the Xbox One launches in November. Microsoft has previously said it plans to deliver live subscription TV services to the new console by tethering the Xbox One to an MSO-supplied set-top, pass the video through an HDMI connection, and overlay Microsoft’s own user interface.
“Let’s just say that the two companies are collaborating on many levels,” Westlake said. “Stay tuned.”