Microsoft has linked with some 40 major broadcasters around the world including ZDF, Mediaset and HBO on a new on-demand TV service due to launch later this year.
The service will make programming available through the software giant’s Xbox 360 gaming console and its subscription-based Xbox Live entertainment service.
“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realising our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment business at Microsoft.
Comcast, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the US; Rogers on Demand in Canada, Televisa in Mexico and LoveFilm in Germany and the UK, which joins existing Xbox partners such as AT&T, Netflix and BSkyB.
“This is an exciting and important deal for our customers and is the next move in LoveFilm’s strategy of helping as many homes as possible connect to our service,” said Simon Calver, CEO of LoveFilm. “We want to be the first choice for UK and German customers to get the best entertainment.”
For the BBC, the deal means the iPlayer will now at long last be available via all of the major gaming platforms in the UK. The two parties had been unable to agree terms for some time due to the fact that Microsoft requires Xbox Live customers to pay a subscription for its video offering – a factor that didn’t work for the pubcaster’s free-to-view UK policy.
It’s not yet clear how this issue has been resolved, but BBC Future Media senior business development manager Cyrus Saihan said the deal marked a major breakthrough. “By our estimates, we think that Xbox in the UK has one of the biggest connected footprints and so itâ€™s a great way to reach our audiences,” he said.
Other UK broadcasters included are Channel 4 and Channel 5, but no mention of ITV as yet. From Spain, comes Antena 3, RTVE and TelefÃ³nica.
Sports broadcasters in the deal include ESPN in the US, Spain’s GolTV and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in Canada.
YouTube, Dailymotion, BlinkBox, Vevo and Sony’s Crackle are among the online video services will also be joining the line-up. Facebook will also be accessible in all 35 Xbox Live markets.
The programming will be available on-demand in more than 20 countries by this holiday season, said Microsoft. The service will make additional set-top boxes for particular channels unnecessary.