Microsoft and Sony have both unveiled new content deals for their respective games consoles, as the firms battle it out for control of the burgeoning connected TV market.
At the E3 videogames conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced that it’s adding YouTube to its Xbox 360 games console as well as on-demand mixed martial arts programming from Ultimate Fighting Championship.
At the same time, the firm said it would open up access to live TV programming on Xbox 360 to more providers in the US and around the world over the next year, following recent deals with Sky in the UK, Canal+ in France and Foxtel in Australia.
The firm already provides access to online services such as Hulu Plus, Netflix and Zune through its console in the US and said that it was “building on its expansive catalogue of tens of thousands of movies and TV.”
Microsoft also announced that it is adding Bing-powered voice search to the Xbox 360 to make it easier for users to find entertainment content – including video and music.
“This is an incredible time of growth and innovation for our business leveraging technologies that see us, hear us and connect us all together,” said the president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, Don Mattrick.
Meanwhile, Sony used E3 to stress the video credentials of PlayStation 3 and online entertainment network, in the wake of the massive security breaches that have blighted the firm recently.
Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton said that the PS3 was now the leading streaming platform for Netflix content, accounting for some 30% of all videos that are watched through the service.
This puts Sony ahead of Nintendo’s Wii Console, the Xbox and a host of other devices with streaming capabilities including Apple TV, Roku, plus web-connected HDTV sets and connected Blu-ray players (some made by Sony itself).
Sony also announced it is adding access to BestBuy’s CinemaNow VoD service to the PlayStation Network, giving users access to some 12,000 TV episodes and movies.
Tretton confronted the recent service outages and apologised for the attack on the network, which resulted in hackers compromising the accounts of 77 million global users.
The Microsoft and Sony announcements came on the same day that Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iCloud service. The new service sees Apple offering back-up and syncing options for music, apps and books sold through the App Store and iBookstore, though notably no options for iTunes’ vast catalogue of TV and film content.