Sky has teamed up with Microsoft to give British video gamers the option of watching its channels, including live Premier League football, through their Xbox 360 consoles. Using the Xbox’s internet connection, the service will also include on-demand movies and other content to help Sky meet its target of 10 million customers by 2010. To be launched in the autumn, the service will also let viewers see what Sky Sports events their friends are watching and sit down with them in a virtual television suite while they watch the game.
It is the first time that Microsoft has pushed live television through its Xbox 360 console, which has sold more than 30m worldwide, and the company is expected to sign up broadcast partners in other countries. The deal is not exclusive, however, and Microsoft has already been working with BT on a deal that would plug its BT Vision television product into the console. Despite announcing the tie-up over a year ago, nothing has yet come of it.
The Xbox service, however, will allow Sky to extend its reach into households that do not want, or cannot have, a satellite dish, but have an Xbox console and internet connection. Sky also hopes to persuade existing customers to take the Xbox service to increase its number of multi-room households.
The Xbox 360 service but it will offer at least the 18 channels â€“ including Sky News and Sky Sports 1 and 2 â€“ which can be found on the PC based Sky Player. Pricing of the Xbox 360 service is still being decided but is expected to be free for Sky’s more lucrative customers, such as those on its Max broadband service. The Xbox service will work through any broadband provider, but Sky is expected to use it to attract more broadband users.