Microsoft Xbox strikes content deals with C4, BBC and YouTube

Microsoft: TV ad for the Xbox 360 game, Fable III
Microsoft: TV ad for the Xbox 360 game, Fable III

Microsoft has partnered with a raft of entertainment brands, including Channel 4, BBC, LoveFilm and YouTube in the UK, to deliver their content to Xbox 360 games consoles in a move it claims will "transform TV".

Microsoft yesterday (5 October) announced 40 partners planning to launch entertainment services on the Xbox Live platform, towards Christmas.

Other brands in the UK that will provide an entertainment offering via the console include Channel 5, Microsoft's own MSN portal, on-demand video content service Blinkbox, and music video website Muzu.tv. Sky content has been available on the Xbox since 2009.

Users of the Kinect motion sensitive controller will be able to find and select content on Xbox Live by using voice and motion gestures.

Microsoft also aims to make content "more social and personal" by allowing users to share what they are watching or listening to with friends on the Xbox Live network.

Don Mattrick, president of the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft, said: "The announcement is a major step toward realising our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy.

"Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless."

Sarah Milton, head of VoD at Channel 4, said: "Continuing our strategy of making content available, on demand, where our viewers most want to watch it, we’re delighted to be able to offer 4oD on Xbox 360 – Britain’s best-selling console in 2011."

LoveFilm, the film rental service, has been open about its "platform promiscuous" strategy, and just last week announced its was making its tablet debut on Apple’s iPad.

Simon Calver, chief executive of LoveFilm, said: "We are proud to be a part of Microsoft's expansion into the entertainment space, and are confident it will help fuel our ambition to become Europe's largest membership entertainment service."

Ciaran Bollard, chief executive and co-founder of MUZU.TV, the music video site, said the move could "only be described as a revolutionary music video experience".

Partners in the US include HBO, Comcast, Verizon and NBC Universal. There are already existing partnerships with Netfilx, ESPN and Hulu.

Microsoft's news comes as Google prepares to launch Google TV in the UK in the next few months.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of Facebook's move last week into entertainment.  The social network announced that a raft of partners, including Vevo, Spotify and The Guardian, were creating apps to allow Facebook users to consume and share their content.

Follow Sarah Shearman on Twitter @shearmans

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