Sky’s the limit on Xbox Live

29 May 2009

Xbox Live subscribers have yet another reason to switch on, following an exclusive deal with Sky that will see its online service Sky Player piped through to provide live-streaming pay TV, as well as on-demand content and interactive sports features.

Although details of the full line-up of packages and pricing have not yet been announced, it is anticipated that the autumn launch of Sky Player via Xbox will bring with it combinations of Sky Movies, documentary channels such as Discovery and National Geographic and music channels including MTV.

For the new customer joining Sky through the Xbox, this service will be a combination of live channels, on-demand content and individual shows on a pay-per-view basis.

What you get content-wise will depend on whether you are a current Sky customer through a Direct-to-Home (DTH) service, in which case the service comes as a bonus, or if you do not subscribe to Sky’s DTH service, because you can obviously subscribe to Sky through Xbox without the need for a dish.

What will most certainly be on board is Sky Sports, as this partnership is not simply giving Xbox Live subscribers a chance to see Premier League football and Heineken Cup Rugby; it will also have some unique interactive services.

“The Xbox platform enables us to do a number of things we haven’t previously done,” explained Stephen Nuttall, director of Sky’s Commercial Group.

“One of the most interesting aspects of this new partnership with Sky is if you look at some of the sports content that we will be delivering to customers, we will be able to bring one of the community aspects from the Xbox Live service into those sporting events.”

“For example, you and seven friends can create a mini fan zone for your team or event, where you talk to each other and have your Xbox Live avatars on screen to represent yourself and express emotions while making little wagers!,” said Neil Thompson, head of Xbox UK and Ireland.

Nuttall of Sky said: “We have had a long-standing collaboration with Microsoft around online video for a number of years. We have worked with it since we launched our online video services three years ago, and we’ve always used Microsoft DRM so the partnership around Xbox is a natural extension of this evolution.”

By Marie Boran