Microsoft hopes to make a step in networked media hubs with its offering of live sports through the Xbox 360, according to a leak. The company is in advanced talks with Disney to stream feeds of live TV from ESPN through the system. Users would get access to almost all events through Internet feeds while paying a subscription.
As a complement to the service, Microsoft would develop tie-in games for ESPN, as the New York Times mentions. The talks are continuing and as a consequence many of the current details may be changed.
This initiative is part of a larger strategy already including live TV or TV-like events, such as the 1 vs. 100 live game show or Sky broadcasts on the Xbox. The Mediaroom has been linked to the Xbox 360 and would provide gamers with their IPTV service through their consoles. Significant use of this service is yet to be seen, however.
While not declining the ESPN rumour, Microsoft admits wanting to put as much content as possible on the Xbox.
Microsoft not only wants to compete with the PlayStation 3, but also with some dedicated media hubs like Roku’s Internet Player or Apple TV. These devices, as well as the Xbox 360, focus on pre-recorder content almost exclusively. Such content is represented by rentals from the iTunes Store or Zune Video Marketplace, as well as Netflix and Amazon on-demand viewing. If Microsoft’s strategy is successful, the company will bring something quite new on the market.
Apple is already putting pressure on Microsoft as rumours have been heard of negotiations for an iTunes TV subscription that would provide downloads of most TV shows in exchange of a flat monthly contribution. Disney is supposed to be one of the earliest to agree to such a deal thanks to its Apple connection through the presence of Steve Job in its board of directors.