Is Xbox One the Next Cable

Live TV coming to Xbox One but few details still offered how or when.

In order for the Xbox to be the main entertainment hub in the living room, Microsoft needs to do one thing: get rid of the cable box.

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The company made that more of a reality on Wednesday when it revealed that the new Xbox One will deliver live TV streams through the more powerful game console that connects to the Internet.

Xbox execs provided few details on who it’s struck deals with to provide the live TV streams, but the one-hour Xbox One unveiling didn’t shy away from showing off live TV features that the Xbox One will offer. Demo showed off how the device’s software can search for specific series, channels or what shows are “trending” among Xbox Live’s members.

Phrases like “watch TV” were also used to demonstrate how the Xbox One can quickly switch over to live TV. An episode of CBS gameshow “The Price Is Right” was used as an example during the presentation.

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Through its partnerships with Comcast’s Xfinity and Verizon’s FiOS TV on the existing console, Microsoft has clearly been able to convince cable companies that the Xbox is a viable alternative through which their services can be delivered to pay-TV subscribers who authenticate their subscriptions via passwords.

Doing so would help get cablers and even satcasters out of the business of building set-top boxes, a money-losing venture but one that’s obviously been necessary in getting their content into customers’ homes.

But it would also considerably up the appeal of the Xbox as a console for more than just videogames — something it’s already established by offering a growing list of streaming video services, and separate second-screen experiences through Smart Glass.

There is little difference between the Xbox and DVR offered by most cablers — they both offer hard drives and software to manage on-air and recorded programming.

Microsoft already has been moving toward turning the Xbox into a virtual MSO since 2011, when it began offering limited live streams of TV shows through partners. But in including a live TV feed in its new Xbox One, the console will be able to package the same channels that cablers and satcasters provide. Xbox Live members will still need to prove they’re a subscriber to a Comcast or DirecTV, for example.

Until now, Xbox Live offered only access to apps from HBO or individual channels that provided pared-down programming offerings. The Comcast and FiOS TV offerings that the Xbox 360 currently offers also are limited to a pre-selected list of channels.

Microsoft was offering authenticated cable access abroad to MSOs like France’s Canal Plus. Xbox 360 was also the first device to provide an app capable of connecting TVs with Netflix, which remains the console’s most popular video attraction. Xbox Live was the first service that enabled renting high-definition movies on the Internet.

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