Microsoft announces landmark TWC deal to bring 300 live TV channels to the Xbox 360
July 1, 2013
Remember that 21st century living room revolution? You know, the one that was supposed to have arrived about two years ago, and have been spearheaded by Apple? Well, it's showing some signs of life after all, and one platform just solidified its standing as the most likely to lead the way. Microsoft has announced a big deal with Time Warner Cable (TWC), that will let the company's US cable subscribers stream live TV using the Xbox 360.
Starting "later this [Northern Hemisphere] summer," TWC subscribers who also have an Xbox Live Gold membership will be able to watch up to 300 live TV channels on their Xbox 360s. They will be able to use Kinect to surf channels using voice and gesture, all without a cumbersome cable box.
According to Microsoft, the deal includes popular channels like AMC, BBC World News, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network, HGTV. Note that Microsoft didn't mention ESPN, TNT, TBS, FOX, or any of the three major broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, or ABC). That doesn't necessarily mean they won't be in the fold, but it stands to reason that they would have been mentioned in the press release if they were part of the deal.
This isn't exactly the radical overhaul of television content delivery that many have been clamoring for. You're still tethered to a traditional cable subscription, and you actually need a second subscription (Xbox Live Gold) to watch that final season of Breaking Bad live on your Xbox. But it's definitely a step in that direction, and can almost let subscribers replace their cable boxes with a gaming console.
Perhaps more importantly, the move sets the stage for the real star of the show, the Xbox One. Microsoft's press release only mentions the One in passing, saying the company will have more to announce on that front "in the coming months." Considering how far past its prime the Xbox 360 is, it's hard to believe this isn't part of a bigger deal to integrate live, cable-box-free TWC content into the (much more TV focused) Xbox One.