Skip to Content

Live TV Coming to the Xbox

Microsoft announces that live TV, as well as YouTube videos, will soon be available via the Xbox.
June 7, 2011

The Xbox 360 is a gaming console, right? Increasingly less so. We’ve seen how the Xbox (and the PlayStation 3) have become more and more like all-purpose home entertainment systems—the new digital hearth. On Monday, Microsoft upped the ante, announcing that live TV would be coming to Xbox in the fall. The announcement came at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Details about the live TV service, sadly, were scarce. Microsoft didn’t name its partners in the venture. Dennis Durkin, Microsoft’s chief operating and financial officer for interactive entertainment, said that more details would come between now and the product launch date, reports CNN. One thing’s clear, however; this is a major gambit to hook users on Xbox Live, the service first launched in 2002 which is said to earn Microsoft over $1 billion per year. “We want you to have a reason to turn on the Xbox every day,” he said.

While we didn’t learn just which networks might partner with Microsoft, we did learn a bit about how the user might navigate Xbox Live’s TV service: by voice, and via Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. The demonstration showed how Bing could power searches across multiple video sources: the Web, YouTube, and the forthcoming “Live TV” service. Since voice control lets you speak your command, “You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” Xbox Live’s Mark Whitten said, according to CNET.

Microsoft wants to partner with cable companies, not supplant them. Durkin told Bloomberg that the best example of what Microsoft has in mind is the partnership they’ve already piloted in the U.K. through the British Sky Broadcasting Group. That service also offers a glimpse of unique features Xbox might be able to leverage as both a TV provider and gaming network–simultaneous viewing with friends, and potentially a chat feature for the long awaited “social TV” experience. The U.K. service was first presented back in 2009, which makes it somewhat surprising it has taken this long to launch an equivalent in the U.S.

With Microsoft’s announcement, did it leave competitors Nintendo and PlayStation in the lurch? Not exactly: Microsoft was the only of the “big three” to not be announcing new hardware at E3, meaning it would take a big announcement like this to get anyone to pay attention as Nintendo and PlayStation revealed their own offerings.

The Xbox 360 event at E3. Credit: Microsoft.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.