RTÉ Player to arrive on Xbox 360 with Kinect gesture controls

26 Sep 2013

Jennifer Maguire from the Republic of Telly

Broadcaster RTÉ has forged a partnership with Microsoft to bring the RTÉ Player catch-up TV app to Xbox 360 consoles. The move brings Kinect gesture and voice capabilities to selecting content from the RTÉ Player.

The RTÉ Player app will be available to Xbox Live Gold members in Ireland who can access popular shows like Damo & Ivor, Up for the Match, The Secret Millionaire, Republic of Telly, New Girl and soaps like Home and Away, Neighbours and EastEnders.

“Making RTÉ Player available on Xbox 360 extends the value of RTÉ’s content, as well as potentially reaching and serving new audiences,” said Múirne Laffan, managing director of RTÉ Digital.

Design and development

“Not only does it give audiences more choice on how they watch and listen to great RTÉ content, but it also brings RTÉ Player to a whole new experiential level using Kinect for Xbox 360; which will allow users to navigate the app using their gestures and voice. This partnership with Xbox means that RTÉ Player is now available on seven platforms, offering audiences more choice and flexibility than ever before.”

According to Kevin Massey who heads up RTÉ’s development team for apps, a critical aspect of building the app for the Xbox platform was maintaining a consistent experience for users of the Player app on other devices.

“What Xbox offers that others don’t is support for Kinect with gesture controls. A challenging aspect was improving the video and the app for a larger screen, which meant double the bitrate.

“From a design point of view, we drew on our experience of what we had done before with the Samsung Smart TV connected experience. Also Microsoft’s Xbox platform has a nice framework of supports to enable a good visual experience. The 360 platform is quite mature so we had a lot of resource to build upon which smoothed the process,” Massey said.

Xbox category lead at Microsoft Ireland Shirley Finnerty said Xbox is constantly looking for new partners to deliver the best content to the Xbox Live platform.

“We’ve a huge installed base of Xbox users in Ireland and we believe it’s going to be a good match.

“We’re seeing a huge uptake in terms of video usage on the Xbox platform. Between 2011 and 2012 we saw a 57pc increase in video. In terms of content we have seen the number of TV apps and video experiences treble. From a youth perspective and in terms of what’s going to be available to users, the trend is upwards.”

In terms of the potential of using platforms like Xbox to deliver box-set content on demand, RTÉ business development manager Bernard Cohen said there was nothing to announce at this point.

“We’re constantly looking at new products and services and we’re focused on how people are consuming content in the market. We work in a constantly evolving environment.

“We are continually investigating how users are consuming content online and at the same time figuring out the optimum user experiences that should accompany those trends and how best we can develop our services in response,” Cohen said.

Neither company could comment on whether the Player app will also arrive on the Xbox One when it launches on 22 November.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years