Microsoft has long talked up its Internet TV prowess (they’ve been in the space for a very, very long time), with a combination of its consumer led set-top box a.k.a. the XBox 360 and its telco IPTV solution dubbed Mediaroom.
One of the advantages of the company’s connected vision was supposed to be the advent of interactive television based on what the Internet could bring to the table. Think: live instant messaging through the TV with friends while watching the same channel or accessing additional information pulled in from the web, for example. With yesterday’s announcement that satellite broadcaster BSkyB’s broadband TV service ‘Sky Player’ is coming to XBox 360 users in the UK and Ireland, that vision is now a lot more tangible.
From the press release:
In offering Sky Player, participating Xbox owners in the UK and Ireland will also be able to access a wide variety of pay TV content as well as a range of interactive services uniquely delivered by the Xbox LIVE platform. For Sky Sports, for example, this will mean that live coverage will be supported by range of interactive applications to enhance the viewing experience. As well as fans being able to communicate with one another in real time via their broadband connections, they will also be able to check news and access fixtures, league tables and other on-demand information. Interactive applications will also be developed across other programmes genres.
In addition to live pay TV channels, Sky Player on XBox 360 will offer an “on-demand library of thousands of programmes spanning entertainment, movies, documentaries, kids, culture, news and sport.”
Nate Lanxon over at CNet UK got an early hands-on of the service and is positive about the UI and image quality. “The interface is lush, painted with buckets of blue of various shades, and it navigates exactly like the rest of Xbox Live. And in our demo, image quality of streamed video was excellent considering the service’s largest caveat: all content is in standard definition.”
Sky Player on XBox 360 will be free to existing ‘multi-room’ Sky satellite subscribers or a separate paid-for monthly subscription for others. The service should be available this autumn.