Xbox users around the world are soon able to watch more TV with their game consoles: Microsoft (s MSFT) announced Tuesday morning that it is bringing a total of 40 new entertainment apps to the Xbox Live platform. Available right away are a Karaoke app, a Maxim app and an app to access media stored on Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, launches in the coming months include an app from the CW network, a Vimeo (s IAC) app and a Crunchyroll app.
Some of these apps will be authenticated or subscription-based, while others will be free to use. Notably, the CW’s app won’t require users to have a pay TV subscription.
It’s also worth noting that not all 40 apps are going to be available in the United States. The Napster streaming music app for example will be exclusive to the U.K. and Germany; HBO Nordics will be available to users in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and Livesport.tv is launching in a dozen European markets as well as New Zealand.
Still, the roll-out is impressive, and shows that Microsoft is committed to turning its Xbox Live platform into a full-fledged entertainment service around the world. The company now has a total of 40 entertainment apps available to U.S. users, and Xbox LIVE Entertainment and Advertising General Manager Ross Honey told me Monday that the time users spend on Xbox Live entertainment apps grew 63 percent in November 2012, compared to November 2011.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only one seeing massive opportunity in the entertainment space for game consoles. Nintendo’s (S NTDOY) Wii U just launched with second-screen apps for Netflix and Hulu Plus, and Sony (s SNE) recently reminded us that its PS3 still is the game console that causes the most traffic for Netflix.
Asked about that particular data point, Honey had this to say: “We offer users a much broader set of apps.” That would lead to consumers splitting their time more broadly, as opposed to just watching Netflix.
Sony, the ball is in your court.