At last night’s opening keynote speech for the 2007 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Jeff Bell, Microsoft’s VP of Marketing for the Xbox, made a number of Internet TV-related announcements. The major, and longed after news, is that Video Market place, which enables users to download paid-for television shows and movies to the XBox 360, will finally launch in Canada and Europe by the end of the year. Bell also revealed that Xbox Live currently has more than 7 million members, and that content sold through the Video Marketplace has brought in $125 million of revenue.
The second big announcement is that, as of today, Disney content will be available on Xbox Live. According to the accompanying press release, the catalog will feature new and classic movies from The Walt Disney Studios including titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films.
“We’re always looking for more ways to let people experience our films,” said Dan Cohen, executive vice president of pay television and interactive media for Disney-ABC Domestic Television. “With the millions of Xbox 360 consoles in living rooms today with a direct, high-speed Internet connection, Xbox LIVE really has become a terrific device for the delivery of digital entertainment content.”
Disney, whose largest shareholder is Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, is to-date, the only the major studio to sell movies through Apple’s iTunes — so it’s particularly significant to see them now partner with Microsoft. However, with the current battle for the living room only just heating up, it’s clear that, whatever their elegances, the major studios are spreading their bets. And compared to the AppleTV, which has had limited penetration, the XBox 360 looks a good one.