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Fox joining Xbox family

Video Marketplace already has films, shows

Microsoft has signed up Fox as the newest partner for its Xbox Live Video Marketplace, and the two are launching with “Family Guy,” a show aimed squarely at the service’s young male gamer demo.

Video Marketplace, which allows Xbox 360 owners to download movies and TV shows via the vidgame console’s Internet connection, already has films from Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate and New Line and TV shows from CBS, NBC Universal and MTV Networks. Some content is available in high-def, making it the only Internet videostore offering HD downloads.

Deal likely marks the first step in a broader relationship between Fox and Microsoft to distribute TV shows and films.

“I imagine we will eventually have lots of content on the service,” said Jamie McCabe, exec VP of pay-per-view, video-on-demand and electronic sell-through for 20th Century Fox.

To start, though, both sides figured beginning with “Family Guy” was a no-brainer given download patterns thus far for Xbox Live Video Marketplace.

“The bulk of our users are young males, and when we offer content attractive to that demo, like ‘South Park’ and ‘300,’ we do stellar business,” said Ross Honey, senior director of Microsoft’s media and entertainment group.

Pact marks the first time “Family Guy” episodes have been available for digital download-to-own. Xbox Live will launch with seasons one and two next week, along with skein’s direct-to-DVD film “Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin — The Untold Story.” Other seasons will be added soon thereafter, with new episodes going up on Xbox Live the day after they air.

Honey noted that Microsoft is expecting a huge spike in activity on Xbox Live’s online gaming service after “Halo 3” launches Sept. 25 and that the company is hoping to market video downloads to those users.

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