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BSkyB and Microsoft Join Forces to Offer TV through Xbox

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Sky and Microsoft have announced that from this autumn, millions of Xbox owners in the UK and Ireland will have the opportunity to access Sky Player, Sky’s online TV service, through their broadband-enabled games consoles.

Sky Player currently provides access to a range of live pay TV channels – including Sky Sports - a comprehensive on-demand library of thousands of programmes spanning entertainment, movies, documentaries, kids, culture, news and sport. This innovative deal means that Xbox owners will be able to access pay TV content via their entertainment consoles for the first time. And for existing Sky customers who own an Xbox, their console will provide another way to watch their favourite programming, in addition to their PC or Mac.

The partnership supports Sky’s broader strategy of using a range of distribution platforms to reach new audiences and of giving both new and existing customers alike more choice and control over how they access Sky content. For Xbox, it supports the company’s vision of reaching new audiences by continuing to offer consumers more choice in their entertainment experiences - from films to music videos, and from gaming to live TV.

When the service launches later this year, Sky Player will be available in the following ways:

  • For a customer joining Sky through their Xbox, Sky Player TV will offer a wide range of linear TV channels as well as a comprehensive library of on-demand content. A number of subscription packages will be available, as will the opportunity to access programming on a pay-per-view basis.
  • Xbox owners who already subscribe to Sky TV will now be able to access Sky Player’s on-demand services through their console, in addition to their PC or Mac. And for those customers who also subscribe to Sky Multiroom, Sky Broadband Max or Sky Player Multiroom, they will also be able to enjoy live TV via their console.

Stephen Nuttall, Director of Sky’s Commercial Group, comments: “Our innovative partnership with Xbox puts more choice and control in the hands of customers. Now Xbox owners can enjoy a wide range of TV through their console and can pick and choose the packages that are right for them. For Sky, this makes our content even more widely available and opens up a new commercial opportunity.”

Neil Thompson, Head of Xbox UK and Ireland, adds “Our customers have told us that they want the opportunity to use their consoles as a way to access TV and once again Xbox has pulled off an entertainment first with amazing content and rich interactive experience. The combination of Sky’s leadership in content creation and aggregation and our own in creating a constantly evolving new generation of rich 360 entertainment experiences means we are one step closer to our goal of offering Xbox owners the best entertainment experiences out there, whether it’s movies, music, games, interactive experiences or high quality TV.”

Sky Player TV was launched in December 2008 as a dedicated online subscription TV service, providing an alternative way to subscribe to Sky TV, without the need to subscribe to an existing TV-based service. It builds upon the success of Sky Player, which launched in 2006 as a bonus service for Sky’s Direct-to-Home (DTH) customer base, and allows existing Sky customers to access live channels and on-demand content via their computers. It currently provide access to the likes of Sky Sports, Sky Movies, Sky News, The History Channel, National Geographic, the BBC, G.O.L.D, Eden, MTV ONE, Sky1, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, among others.

Xbox LIVE is the first and most comprehensive unified online entertainment network. Xbox LIVE connects millions of members across 26 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox LIVE Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos.

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.

Full details on launch date, channel line-up and pricing will be revealed closer to launch.