Tag Archives | IPTV

AT&T U-Verse Incoming for Xbox 360

After years of promises, it looks like the Xbox 360 will finally be able to act as a television set-top box for AT&T U-Verse subscribers, starting next month.

The news isn’t official, but Engadget got some leaked documents that spell out the deal. AT&T will release a U-Verse update on October 17, and will switch on the Xbox 360 compatibility on November 7. Just a couple gotchas: U-Verse subscribers will still need at least one AT&T set-top box or DVR in the home, and the Xbox 360 needs to have a hard drive.

The main benefit to using an Xbox 360 is cost savings. One of the documents says “No MRC for Xbox receiver,” which I think refers to monthly rental cost. Additional U-Verse receivers cost $7 per month, so subscribers could save $84 per year by using an Xbox 360 instead. Juggling fewer set-top boxes and remote controls is also a plus.

Microsoft first touted the Xbox 360’s IPTV capabilities in 2007, at the Consumer Electronics Show. Microsoft’s Mediaroom television software, which is used by more than two dozen television providers worldwide, can technically run on the Xbox 360, but until now, few providers have actually done it. In the United Kingdom, BT started supporting the Xbox 360 in 2008, but could not actually send live television to the console. In Canada, Telus switched on Xbox 360 support in August, becoming the first provider in North America to do so.

U-Verse’s arrival will be better late than never. But if the IPTV feature was available three years ago, Xbox 360s acting as second receivers would’ve almost paid for themselves by now.


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Verizon Plans FiOS IPTV Service

Verizon is in the early phases of deploying an Internet Protocol television (IPTV) system in a move to bring its FiOS brand to the Web, according to a well-placed source within the company. The service will extend beyond PCs to gaming consoles.

While I was was not given any timetable for the service’s arrival, Verizon is operating under a sense of urgency. “We are late to the game,” my source told me. Internal testers at Verizon are already using the service, including software for Sony’s PlayStation 3. A Verizon spokesperson said that the company did not comment on “rumor or speculation.”

“Verizon is a clear leader in video entertainment innovation, and as such, we are always looking at new ways to transform and enrich the user experience,” the spokesperson said. “Consider all of the features and services that FiOS introduced first: widgets; online video programming, including HBO Go, EPIX and last week’s announcement that we’ll be launching Turner networks online in June; social media (Facebook and Twitter) and Internet Videos (YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.) on TV, and more…”

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Nintendo Getting Into Video After All

Analysts have called for it, and with the Wii’s impressive install base it makes sense, but earlier I suggested that Nintendo will shy away from streaming video due to its philosophy of exalting gameplay above all.

So here’s me eating my words.  At least in Japan, Nintendo and advertising giant Dentsu will offer a video service next year. Still, don’t expect an equivalent of Netflix or the on-demand TV show offerings of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The videos coming to the Wii will be created specifically for the console, with a combination of pay-to-see and ad-supported content. The Nikkei business daily has reported that this will consist of cartoons, among other things.

This is a bit puzzling, because offering established TV shows instead of this yet-unspecified content would seem like the safer bet when building a video service. Then again, the Wii itself was a gamble that paid off handsomely, so perhaps Nintendo knows exactly what it’s doing. We’ll have to see what happens to the content if and when it migrates west.


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TV Today: It’s Still About Lean Forward vs. Sit Back

Imagine yourself watching TV right now. Where would you be? Would you be sitting back in your favorite chair in your living room and holding your remote control in one hand? Or are you sitting down at your local Starbucks, sipping coffee and watching video on your iPod?

Odds are most of your TV watching still occurs in comfort of your living room with your TV set. But increasingly, consumers are watching video anywhere they can: from work on the PC, on the road from a laptop, on iPods and iPhones, and other portable media players.

Even the term watching TV can be misconstrued, since there are so many options today. Does it mean watching a live broadcast TV channel as it is being aired? Does it mean viewing a show on-demand from your DVR? Does it mean buying the latest Daily Show episode from iTunes and watching it on your iPhone during your morning commute? Or maybe you’d rather go to NBC.com and watch the full episodes of Heroes for free (with limited commercials, of course).

I’ve recently been thinking about an old phrase from the early days of Internet video: Lean forward vs. sit back. Essentially, it’s the difference between PCs and TVs. PCs are more interactive while TVs are a passive experience. Lots of companies I spoke to back then were interested in the future of television and interactive TV services and wanted to blur the lines between PCs and TVs.

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