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Boxee Gets NHL Game Center App, New Beta

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Boxee scored its second major sports league partnership today, bringing hockey fans live NHL games through an officially sanctioned NHL GameCenter Live app — provided they’re willing to pay $19.95 per month or $79 per year, that is. The NHL app will offer paying Boxee users up to 40 live games in HD every week as well as archived games 48 hours after they broadcast.

Not a hockey fan? No worries, Boxee is also releasing some goodies for the rest of its user base, in the form of a new beta version. The new version features, amongst other things, an advanced integration of social networks, as well as better support for RSS feeds.

Boxee’s partnership with the NHL is an important step toward adding premium services, and it could also help to market the upcoming Boxee Box as the set top box of choice for cord cutters who don’t want to pay for cable but also don’t want to miss out on live sports. Boxee announced a partnership with MLB last summer and recently updated its MLB app to be more accessible to a mass audience.

However, sports fans might not want to throw out that cable box just yet. NHL GameCenter Live blacks out a number of games, including some that are shown on national broadcast, as well as games involving local teams, even if those games are only shown on cable or satellite channels. Oh, and people in Europe and the Middle East are completely out of luck and won’t be able to sign up for GameCenter at all.

Boxee’s new beta version allows users to get movie recommendations from their contacts on Facebook and Twitter. It’s also easier to find and manage RSS feeds for video content through an RSS console on Boxee’s web site, as well as a new RSS feeds app. This should be especially helpful for any content that isn’t available via a dedicated app through Boxee yet.

Boxee also upgraded its file recognition and scanning procedures, making it a little more obvious why the software isn’t recognizing certain files and offering options to manually resolve these issues. Boxee’s Avner Ronen told me during an interview at NewTeeVee Live last year that the local library of video files on users hard drives is still very important, despite the growing content library available online through Hulu, Netflix (s NFLX) and the like. “90 percent of our users are watching local media,” he said.

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