Starz Hops Aboard Microsoft’s Xbox

Premium cable network launches app on previous-generation game console

Starz is finally bringing its authenticated video service to Microsoft’s Xbox — but not yet to the latest generation of the console.

The premium cabler’s TV Everywhere service for subscribers, Starz Play, is now available for the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system for no extra charge to Xbox Live Gold members.

Starz said it is developing an app for Xbox One — which Microsoft launched Nov. 22 — expected to be available sometime next year. The company also is developing support for its other authenticated online services, Encore Play and MoviePlex Play, slated for the first half of 2014.

Starz is still playing catch-up to HBO, which got started on its TV Everywhere strategy two and half years earlier. HBO, it’s worth noting, does not have an app for Xbox One yet; it introduced one for Xbox 360 in March 2012.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft Ready to Fill Xbox One Screen With Apps Upon Launch

For Starz, launching on Xbox 360 first makes sense, because that will let the programmer reach a potential audience of millions. At the same time, according to Starz chief revenue officer Michael Thornton, “we pledge the incredible new Xbox One is a top priority for our 2014 development plans.”

The Starz app on Xbox 360 supports the console’s Kinect attachment for voice and gesture controls and navigation.

The programmer’s Play services, first launched in October 2012, are available on a range of devices including PCs, Macs, iPhone, iPad, several Android handsets, tablets and other platforms including Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and select Google Nexus devices.

Pay-TV partners that offer Starz Play include DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems. Comcast and Dish Network have not signed on to Starz Play but both offer the same selection of programming through their own online-video services.

Starz Play offers about 400 monthly selections. Those include 300 movies from Disney (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Brave”), Sony Pictures Entertainment (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Men in Black 3,” “Hotel Transylvania”) and other studios, as well as 100 eps of Starz original series, including “The White Queen,” “Da Vinci’s Demons,” “Spartacus” and “Magic City.”

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