A year after launch, Xbox 360 comes closer to fulfilling expectations of a living room media center with the addition of movie rentals and TV downloads through Xbox Live Marketplace. The Xbox Live Video Marketplace opens for business Nov. 22 — the anniversary of the Xbox 360 launch — with content from a variety of companies including Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, Paramount Studios, CBS, Warner Brothers. and Ultimate Fighting Championship This was one of the expected directions for Xbox 360 but, as I wrote earlier this year, the chokehold on supply that kept the core gaming audience from being served initially, effectively postponed outreach beyond gaming. This latest move plays off the already existing Xbox-TV connection. It’s also a one-up area for Microsoft: Xbox 360 owners won’t need Apple’s iTV — unless they’re big Disney fans.
— Microsoft is also claiming bragging rights on another front: “Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console to bring standard and high-definition TV shows and movies via digital distribution over the Internet directly to the consumer.” The release stresses repeatedly that gamers are the target. Xbox 360 owners can access Xbox Live Marketplace with a free Xbox Live Silver membership and a broadband connection.
— For CBS, it marks the first delivery of HD download-to-own. Shows include CSI, Jericho, Numb3rs Survivor.m– and remastered HD episodes from Star Trek.
— Turner will provide episodes from its animated Adult Swim and, for the first time, NASCAR download-to-own in the form of condensed races from NASCAR.com.
— MSFT’s HD-DVD option for Xbox is due “mid November” for $200.
WSJ: Prices will be competitive with other download services. As for the TV connection: “But there is also a downside: the Xbox 360 has limited storage capacity, compared with most PCs. Xbox 360 users will be able to store only about 16 hours of standard-quality video and about 4½ hours of high-definition video on the machine, room for only a smattering of movies and television shows. Microsoft says users will be able to download television shows for free that they have previously purchased and deleted to make room for additional content on their consoles.”
CNNMoney: Some downloads will be in HD and wil cost a little more. Users have two weeks to start watching their movie downloads but once viewing begins a 24-hour clock starts ticking. Purchased TV shows aren’t portable. “Microsoft said it has developed a progressive download technology which will allow users to begin watching the program or film before it has downloaded entirely to the Xbox 360’s hard drive. Shorter programs, such as “South Park,” will be viewable instantly. Longer features, such as a high definition film, will require a short wait, so they can build up a cache.”
NYT: “Judging by the initial offerings, Xbox Live will be something of a cyberspace version of the Spike Channel, MTV Networks