“Microsoft Corp. on Monday said it would rent movies and sell television shows through Internet downloads to its Xbox Live video game service, pitting the software giant against long-time rival Apple Computer Inc. and others responding to the explosion of video on the Web,” Lisa Baertlein reports for Reuters.
Baertlein reports, “Microsoft will begin on November 22 to offer standard and high-definition films such as Warner Bros.’ ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Jackass: The Movie’ from Paramount Pictures through its Xbox Live Marketplace. Television shows will include Viacom Inc’s ‘South Park’ and ‘CSI: NY’ from CBS Corp.. Viewers will need the current-generation Xbox 360 console with a hard drive to take advantage of the service.”
“Apple also is planning a 2007 launch for its iTV, which will allow users to watch downloaded movies and television episodes from iTunes on the television,” Baertlein reports.
“Microsoft customers have a two week window from when they download a movie to watch it, but once they begin watching it they have only 24 hours to keep it. Television shows, on the other hand, will be sold for purchase through Xbox Live. Microsoft expects to offer 1,000-plus hours of video content through Xbox Live by the end of 2006,” Baertlein reports.
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “jimbo” for the heads up.]
“The new service will enable subscribers to receive content directly over the Internet on their Xbox 360, which they then can view on their living room televisions without having to stream it from a personal computer,” Ryan Kim reports for The San Francisco Chronicle.
Kim reports, “The Xbox offering, which becomes available Nov. 22, is the first service to feature downloadable high-definition television shows such as ‘CSI’ and the first console to offer full television shows and movies, Microsoft said.”
“Xbox 360 users will find the new content on the Xbox Live Marketplace, a part of the Xbox online network, and will be able to download it to the machine’s 20-GB hard drive. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the movies and shows; Henson said it would be competitive with similar services, with a small premium for high-definition content,” Kim reports. “Microsoft has not said when high-definition movies and television shows might be available for PCs and for its new Zune media player.”
“Xbox 360 users will find the new content on the Xbox Live Marketplace, a part of the Xbox online network, and will be able to download it to the machine’s 20-GB hard drive. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the movies and shows,” Kim reports. “Microsoft has not said when high-definition movies and television shows might be available for PCs and for its new Zune media player.”
Kim reports, “Henson said it will take 13 minutes for users with an average 3-megabit-per-second broadband connection to download a half-hour television show in standard definition. That means they can begin watching the show immediately while the rest of the program downloads simultaneously. High-definition movies will take several hours to download.”
Microsoft “is prepared to look into alternative storage possibilities, perhaps bigger hard drives for the Xbox 360,” Kim reports.
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Kirk” for the heads up.]
“Ross Honey, senior director of Microsoft’s media, content and partner strategy group, estimated that 750 hours of programming would be available as soon as the service launches,” Elizabeth M. Gillespie reports for The Associated Press.
Gillespie reports, “The programming — most of it in standard-definition format and some in high-definition — will be available through the Xbox 360 console to any user of Xbox Live’s free or paid online service, which allows gamers with broadband connections to send text or voice messages to each other, and watch movie trailers and other product demonstrations.”
Gillespie reports, “Some analysts said the initial variety of Xbox TV and movie programming struck them as a bit thin. ‘The size of the launch library did feel a bit too small to be able to make a huge immediate impact,’ said Jason Anderson, director of research at San Francisco-based International Development Group. ‘But what it does is send out a signal flare to the rest of the industry that there’s a commitment from Microsoft to be able to sell multiple types of content through the Xbox.'”
“Analysts are not predicting that the new service will steal much business away from Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE – news).’s market-leading PlayStation franchise, but the consensus seems to be that it will help Microsoft remain competitive,” Gillespie reports. “The Xbox service will launch less than a week after Sony’s PlayStation 3 video-game console hits store shelves in the United States.”
“Sony has not said whether it will sell TV shows and movies through PS3, though company officials last month said the forthcoming online PlayStation Store is being set up so users could potentially download movies through the PS3,” Gillespie reports. “It would be easy for Sony to sell TV and movie downloads, given its ready access to shows and films produced by its Sony Pictures division.”
“‘Sony has a wealth of entertainment content available to us at our fingertips, whether it’s movies, television or music. It’s just a matter of us tapping into that content, and we will be making an announcement about that at some point,’ said Dave Karraker, spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment America,” Gillespie reports. “The PS3, due out in U.S. stores on Nov. 17, will be able to play games and DVDs at ‘1080p,’ which is the highest-definition resolution currently available.”
Full article here.
This is good news as it shows that content providers are willing to sell at least some programming in high definition. We expect that Apple would want to match the competition in terms of quality and exceed them in terms of sheer quantity. Obviously, the Xbox’s small hard drive is not capable of storing anywhere near the amount of content that most people would desire and we’re unsure how many will want to wait “several hours” to download a single high-def movie. Still, competition is always good and we hope this spurs Apple to address the quality of the content they are offering; we’d like to see at least the option to purchase higher quality music, TV shows, music videos, and feature films from Apple’s iTunes Store.