Microsoft Beats Apple, TiVo, Netflix, Sony To VOD


Snooze you lose! I see an Xbox 360 in my future… as soon as new hardware (larger drives?) and/or lower prices are revealed in the next two weeks. All year I’ve been saying VOD is coming to the 360:

Ultimately, Microsoft will want to simplify the process by taking a home computer out of the equation. Right now customers have the ability to directly download a variety of movie trailers and game demos which has served as a proof-of-concept, both as a technical demonstration and a demonstration of consumer acceptance: 70 million pieces of content downloaded.The next obvious step is to monetize by renting movie downloads directly to the 360.

And here we are:

On Nov. 22, Microsoft will begin offering movies and television on demand through its Xbox Live service. The four million Xbox Live subscribers, including those who use a free barebones service, will have access to movies from the Paramount and Warner Bros.studios, including Mission: Impossible 3 and Superman Returns. They’ll also be able to download TV shows from CBS and MTV such as various flavors of the CSI franchise and South Park. What’s more, since the Xbox 360 can handle high-definition content, many of the available programs will be in high-def as well.

Obviously the Playstation3 (Sony is a movie studio) and Apple iTV are on the way and will feature similar TV-based VOD functionality at some point, but Microsoft gets here first and therefore gets my cash. Anyone interested in a lightly used Moviebeam?

13 thoughts on “Microsoft Beats Apple, TiVo, Netflix, Sony To VOD”

  1. Agreed. Screw HD-DVD and BluRay. I’d rather just go straight to digital downloads. Don’t much care if the content is DRMed as long as it doesn’t get in the way and I get a reasonable amount of time to watch. It will be interesting to see how long an HD movie download takes of course. If its 12 hours or whatever, its going to be a bit excruciating.

    If Tivo doesn’t announce something soon with somebody (Amazon Unbox was the last rumour I heard), they’ll lose my interest fast as well.

    I probably won’t do anything until after the new year, but if the XBox 360 can play videos off my MCE Computer without having to convert them from DivX/Xvid as well, then my Tivo’s will soon start playing a smaller role in my home entertainment.

  2. Nice – EXCEPT, look at those file sizes. Even with an advanced codec, and I’m sure they’re using VC-1, those are TINY. That means they had to have cranked up the compression pretty high, which means the image quality for SD will be lower than DVD and HD will be lower than HD-DVD or BD – by far. That’s not even half the capacity of a single-layer HD-DVD. Hell, it isn’t even the capacity of a standard dual-layer DVD.

    I’d wait to see how things really look, especially an A/B comparison with a larger source.

  3. I’m willing to make the quality compromise for the convenience (though real world download speeds are TBD). ~3GB for an hour of content does seem small (Win MCE records at about double)… Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs contain a decent amount of menus, alternate audio tacks, and extra video which does increase file size. I’ve been pleased with the quality of HD Moviebeam content and assume the Xbox quality will be comparable.

  4. I’ll get excited when it’s not stand alone, when it integrates with MCE so anything I dl becomes available through MCE to all my extenders. It’s a nice first step but the 360 in it’s current form lacks the chops to make this meaningful, and just buying a bigger drive rather then having a solid back haul is no good choice imo.

    mandatory 36 rant:
    Give me xvid, divx, h.264 or tools to make converting them to wmv seamlessly and without quality loss. *shakes fist*

  5. While I think this a step in the right direction, it’s still just another pay-per-view on-demand service, albeit with high-def offerings. Unless they offer a monthly all-you-can-view plan, I’ll stick with my Netflix & use this for any movies/shows I absolutely need to watch in HD.

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