Early details of the next Xbox gaming system from Microsoft are coming out of the woodwork, including plans to further integrate with cable TV systems and subscriptions. While the previous Xbox integrated in some ways with cable systems via internet access, further integrations are apparently planned with the latest Xbox, including the ability to use the gaming console as a cable box itself.
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That’s not terribly surprising, given Microsoft’s existing relationships with Comcast, Verizon and others — which allow users to view a limited amount of cable content via the Xbox 360 (provided you have a cable connection).
The functionality will take several cues from the existing Xbox, but also Google TV. The folks over at The Verge also again make mention of the “always online” nature of the console which has already sparked some controversy:
We understand that the next Xbox will require an online connection to use the entertainment services, allowing them to be always-on for streaming and access to TV signals.
The functionality will work by taking a cable box signal and passing it through to the Xbox via HDMI, allowing Microsoft’s console to overlay a UI and features on top of an existing TV channel or set-top box. We’re told that this is a key part of the next-generation Xbox and that it will go a step further than Google’s TV implementation thanks to Microsoft’s partnerships with content providers.
Again, all of this is well and good again if you have a traditional cable subscription (and pay for an Xbox Live Gold subscription), though some of these previous partnerships initially left something to be desired. Verizon, for example, initially only offered a few channels when using the Xbox as a cable box (they now offer 75) and at lower fidelity that a traditional set top box. It sounds like the next Xbox will evolve on these existing concepts, though hopefully there’s some additional content available for the cord cutters among us.
Making deals with companies producing gaming consoles is one way for cable companies to survive the recent “cord-cutting” going on, with many viewers abandoning cable subscriptions altogether.