Microsoft and Sky have announced a partnership to bring live streaming channels and on demand television to the Xbox 360 this autumn – in what could prove to be a pivotal moment in UK broadcasting.
The Sky Player is currently providing an online service for a relatively small audience, but by porting it to the Xbox it not only opens the service out to a massive new audience, but also brings the prospect of true on demand from Sky to the television, rather than the computer screen.
Should the potential pitfalls around streaming decent quality pictures down internet connections that are suitable for TV screens be avoided, then Sky and Microsoft's tie-up could be a boost for both Sky's premium content and Microsoft's entire Xbox platform.
Choice and control
"Our partnership with Xbox is a further example of our commitment to put choice and control in the hands of customers," said Stephen Nuttall, Director of Sky's Commercial Group.
"Xbox owners now have a range of ways to access Sky content and can pick and choose the platform and packages that are right for them.
"We are extremely excited about the opportunity of reaching Xbox owners who are looking to experience Sky for the first time, as well as giving our existing customers yet another way to experience the content they love."
Existing customers and new ones too
Existing Sky subscribers with an Xbox will now have an on demand service, and new customers with an Xbox will be able to forego satellite installation – although the Sky Player will not bring all of Sky's content, at least for the moment.
The existing online VOD service Sky Player carries streaming sports, news and entertainment, and although channels and pricing are not being confirmed until closer to launch, expect the Sky Sports channels to headline the entire concept.
It's an enticing partnership – bringing one of the nation's premier content providers an entirely new platform from one of the world's gaming powerhouses.
Indeed, the UK and Ireland will be the first place in the world to get this form of live streaming television to a games console, although Microsoft are likely to announce more to come in the weeks that follow this announcement.
Microsoft's head of Xbox for the UK and Ireland, Neil Thompson, believes that the new content will be a perfect fit for the console.
"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," said Thompson.
"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."
Now read our first look at Sky Player for the XBox 360.