Microsoft hopes to dampen enthusiasm for Sony’s US PlayStation 3 launch by introducing a TV service for its Xbox 360 console on 22 November.
The company has signed agreements with a variety of content providers, including CBS, MTV, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Warner Bros, enabling Xbox 360 owners to download programming to their console and watch it on their TV.
Both standard-definition and high-definition video will be available through the Xbox Live Marketplace, with is accessible to anyone with the free Xbox Live Silver membership and a broadband connection.
Around 750 hours of broadcasting is expected to be available at launch, with 1,000 hours promised by the end of the year. Although Microsoft has yet to reveal pricing for individual programmes, the company said it would charge a similar fee to iTunes, which also offers video downloads to US users, usually for between $1.99 and $3.99. High-definition programming with be more expensive than standard programming, Microsoft said.
One advantage of buying video content using a console is that it’s easier to view the acquired programming on a TV. Most users who buy videos using iTunes’ US store are likely to view that content on a computer screen, analysts said.
CBS has revealed a number of programmes that will be available to download and own through the scheme, including CSI and remastered episodes of Star Trek. Sports coverage and feature films will also be available.
The service is due to go live just days after Sony’s 17 November US release of the PlayStation 3 console.