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Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), which had much success bringing Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) to Xbox Live, and then following that up with link-ups with Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter, is adding content from ESPN (NYSE: DIS) to its online gaming service.
ESPN and Microsoft say Xbox 360 owners who are also Xbox Live Gold subscribers will now be able to stream live sporting events being broadcast on ESPN from their consoles via a new ESPN channel. The companies say the channel will feature more than 3,500 live sporting events during its first year. The content is the same as what is available on ESPN3.com, although there will also be some additional clips from ESPN.com and interactive apps.
Rumors of an Xbox Live-ESPN tie-up first surfaced in January, and as we wrote back then, the deal should boost Xbox’s appeal among male-dominated gamers, who are also among ESPN’s core demographic. It also brings content to the Xbox that is not available on the online services of either Nintendo’s Wii or Sony’s PlayStation 3, both of which have followed Microsoft with Netflix partnerships of their own.
In recent months, there were also reports that Microsoft was in talks to bring content from Hulu, as well as possibly original programming from a new venture created by former News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). COO Peter Chernin, to Xbox Live. Neither deal was announced.
Microsoft did however make some other noteworthy, albeit less content-related announcements: Its new controller-free gaming is being called Kinect and will go on sale Nov. 4. A new Xbox 360 with built-in Wi-Fi and a sleeker design goes on sale this week. And, of course, Microsoft announced a slate of new titles for the console.