Microsoft has been steadily adding more video features to the Xbox 360 this year. It might be an attempt to prolong the life of the console (developing a new game console is hugely expensive, and it takes years of selling games to make up the investment), or the company wants to solidify its place in the living room with services beyond mere gaming. Whatever the motivation, today’s news of Verizon’s collaboration with Xbox is interesting.
What’s the news? Select Verizon FiOS TV channels will now be available on Xbox 360 consoles. This doesn’t mean Verizon is just giving away free TV. To take advantage of the offer you need to be both a FiOS TV and internet subscriber and an Xbox LIVE Gold member.
If you’re not a FiOS customer yet, you can sign up for the triple-play service for $89.99 a month, which includes 12 months of Xbox LIVE Gold and the Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary game (offer good through Jan 21, so all you people who raced into Best Buy on Black Friday for an Xbox bundle can wait until the big December 25th unveil).
The offer isn’t for just a few oddball channels. The press release states that 26 channels will be available on the game system (depending on the subscriber’s package) though it doesn’t mention what 26 channels (24 of them could be music channels).
The feature doesn’t become available until next month (December).
To make this even more interesting, users will be able to interact with the service through voice and gesture commends via Kinect—I’m guessing this means they can point to the channel on a guide to launch it.
So are you’re wondering why you’d need the FiOS channels on Xbox 360 if you’re already a FiOS subscriber? The most important reason is this may help you save on extra set-top-box fees. If you get the channels you want over the game console then you don’t need the set-top-box for that television. The Xbox won’t be a full-fledged replacement for a set-top-box. You can’t record on it like a DVR. It may be missing key channels, and you can’t order all your VOD movies. An Xbox also doesn’t count as a supported device for Flexview purchases, though that would be a great feature for Verizon to add.
In other Verizon news, the company was recently slapped with a hefty settlement to Active Video, a company deeply involved in the development of cloud-based TV services. Verizon was ordered to pay Active Video $2.74 per subscriber every month for patent infringement. That’s about $11 million a month. Verizon can pay it, or stop providing important services like video on demand. Active Video has already received $139 million from Verizon for infringements.