Microsoft Promising IPTV on Xbox for Xmas… Again

Microsoft announced at a financial conference yesterday that it plans to offer live TV on the Xbox in time for the holiday season. It’s like deja vu all over again. It was in January of 2007 that Microsoft first made this promise, and the company has dangled the possible integration at every Consumer Electronics Show since.

Once again, the would-be TV provider isn’t naming any partners, but does say it will have “dozens or hundreds of additional video content suppliers,” and that it will bring this service to market through the network operator channel (i.e. your cable provider). This follows last year’s launch of Xbox-as-a-set-top for AT&T’s U-verse service, which includes an unfortunate $99 fee to cover the necessary hardware upgrade. It also comes on the heels of Jinni’s recent announcement that Microsoft is licensing its “semantic discovery technology for personalized, holistic discovery of video entertainment.” Perhaps this reference guide Jinni touted earlier in the month is the basis for Microsoft’s new Xbox TV interface?

We’ll wait and see what Microsoft actually brings to the table, but in the meantime, here’s a timeline of the company’s efforts to make the Xbox a Trojan horse in consumer living rooms. Note, this doesn’t take into account various other Microsoft TV attempts including the ill-fated Microsoft TV Foundation Edition program guide. Yeah, Microsoft’s been at this for a while.

6 thoughts on “Microsoft Promising IPTV on Xbox for Xmas… Again”

  1. Could be very disruptive if it’s ever released, priced right, and with a solid channel lineup. (And reselling a subset of AT&T U-Verse under the Microsoft brand might be the quickest path.) We shall see…

  2. I’m keeping my expectations low (hopes high) as the final product is anyone’s guess as there is a tremendous reliance on cable providers. Reason enough to be wary IMO. However, I am hopeful that Microsoft is able to come through with some solid offerings. My Xboxes are my latest devices (Roku players and PS3s have also served in that coveted slot) of choice the last few months as my primary “input 2” devices as the offerings – Hulu Plus, ESPN3, Netflix, Zune movies & music, and capable local streaming – are pretty solid.

  3. If they’re selling it through MSO’s then its no more interesting than it is now. People who have AT&T U-Verse will care, and the rest of us won’t. In the US anyway.

    My Tivo has access to ‘hundreds’ of channels of video that I ignore already. These guys can litter their start screens with little icons all they want but there are only a few video sources that matter at the moment:

    Amazon Instant Video
    Hulu Plus
    HBO Go
    Sony Crackle
    & Sports (NHL, ESPN, NFL…)

    Anything else is just window dressing. Not saying I won’t watch it, but I won’t buy the device for it, and I won’t watch it MUCH.

  4. I kinda wonder if it’ll work in the other direction this time… will Microsoft resell a subset of AT&T U-Verse services/channels under the MS/Xbox banner. Hm. Whatever happens, it’ll be worth discussing – I have no doubts on that point.

  5. So far the problem is that all of these IPTV vendors base their architectures on live TV delivery using multicast. As we all know multicast doesn’t work over the wider internet, but an MSO can make it work over their network. So for AT&T say to deliver live TV channels to XBox customers that are NOT on their network, they would suddenly have to deliver unicast streams to those customers. Which means the usual problems with needing large server farms, deals with CDN companies, accomodating variable bandwidth via ABR technologies rather than just a fixed h.264 encoded transport stream, etc etc. Meaning a big investment and very different technology than they have installed for their captive customers. Seems unlikely honestly.

    Now if they want to deliver say their VOD assets to iPads then they need a lot of this stuff anyway. So I’d think delivering their VOD assets over the internet to XBox customers might be doable, and something they could scale over time. VOD sessions are inherently unicast anyway.

    Still, does AT&T have the licensing rights to deliver their VOD assets to somebody who isn’t an AT&T customer and not in their region?

  6. *yawn* I nominate IPTV on 360 as DNF’s replacement for coveted Vaporware of the Year award. And I REALLY wish U-Verse would use CableCards, so I could use TiVo hardware.

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