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Pay-TV from Sky comes to Xbox 360

By on May 29, 2009
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More evidence that convergence is finally happening and the console is fighting for its role as the home entertainment hub

Sky logo

The Financial Times reports today that from the autumn, Xbox 360 owners will be able to see Sky programming on demand through their console without being Sky customers.

“Viewers will be able to view Sky’s films, culture shows, documentaries and children’s programming “on-demand” over the internet, while its sport and news channels will be streamed live”

Pricing is not yet clear, but is likely to match the Sky Player model (already available on PC and Mac) which is free to existing Sky subscribers but costs new users £15 to £38 a month.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is not that Microsoft has secured satellite TV content for the Xbox – after all, they’ve been banging on about convergence since the inception of the console; it’s that Sky is allowing is prime asset in its own battle to be the home entertainment hub – its content, including Premier League football rights – to be sublicensed to Microsoft.

So does this mean that BSkyB is throwing in the towel and concluding that the set-top box cannot be the all-purpose home entertainment hub?

If so, that doesn’t sound good for its long term future.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Thanks for the comments, Graham.

    I disagree with you that Sky’s primary asset is the content. I believe that their primary asset is their millions of customers (with the distribution power that entails): the content is the means of securing those customers.

    So while I accept your point that Sky has not focused on the set-top box becoming the home entertainment hub, I think that giving up control of distribution (i.e. users, billing relationships etc) to become a content play is a very risky strategy.

    (My understand was also that Microsoft had bought their stake in Comcast for $1 billion and sold it for somewhere between $2 billion and $3.4 billion – depending on when exactly they sold – 12 years later. Not a great investment, but not loss making either. Source: Wall Street Journal)

  • Graham

    Did Sky ever say that they thought that their set-top-box would be a media hub? I don’t think so. As you have said, their prime asset is their content.

    Sky want to get their content to as many customers as possible, hence Sky products are even available on other people’s boxes such as Virgin Media’s. Sky has also been available on the Sony PSP for a while now.

    Sky’s own box is purely a distribution channel for its content; a necessary evil along with the dish.

    I’d imagine that the same logic is what drives Microsoft with its Xbox. MS wanted to get its software onto more devices and tried very hard to get it onto the set-top-boxes of the cable operators, even buying stakes in the operators themselves. That strategy failed, they lost money on their shareholdings and so they created the Xbox. (Funnily enough, they are now also making some headway with IPTV (video over broadband) operators. The set-top-boxes of BT, Swisscom and AT&T use Microsoft software.)

    I think the aspect of an entertainment hub would be more important to Sony given that they are primarily a hardware manufacturer – hence the emphasis on its Blu-ray capability.