Update: Officially confirmed by Microsoft via press release.
Microsoft will likely announce plans to bring premium television programming to the Xbox 360 today. Essentially, users would be able to convert their Microsoft gaming console into a cable box / streaming video service, as first reported by All Things D.
Microsoft has allegedly been in talks with cable networks and media companies for nearly a year to bring television programming to the 360. But as we inch closer to an announcement, things aren’t looking as promising as they once were.
While the concept seems like a great idea, there is one big catch. The service isn’t really any different than other premium streaming offerings in that you need to be subscribed to cable through a traditional service provider in order to qualify. Basically, the only thing this does is provide an alternate delivery method for services you already have, much like the NBC, TBS and TNT iPad apps that we explored last month.
Currently, Xbox users can access premium content from Hulu and Netflix using their login credentials. Both require separate monthly fees, however, in addition to the requisite Xbox Live Gold membership.
A much more attractive option, although unlikely to happen anytime soon (if ever) would be a la carte programming options. If Microsoft allowed users to select only the channels they wanted on a per-channel subscription basis, they’d make a killing. This would send shockwaves through the cable TV industry and is not likely to play out, although All Things D thinks there’s always a slight chance that a single partner could stray from the norm and do just that.