BBC iPlayer on Xbox goes live today

Increased TV and movie consumption hasn't come at the expense of gaming, MS says.

The BBC iPlayer launches on Xbox today, meaning you'll be able to watch the likes of Doctor Who, Top Gear and Eastenders on the Microsoft made console.

The application will roll out throughout the course of the day. It is expected to be available for all UK users by the end of Tuesday, 20th March.

Microsoft demoed the new app to press at a media briefing in London yesterday, showing how the standard iPlayer interface has been built with Microsoft's Metro user interface design and Kinect integration in mind. Screenshots of the app are below.

If you have Kinect, you can navigate the iPlayer by waving your hand about or by using your voice. The app outputs in high definition, too, which you can enable from within iPlayer.

In keeping with the BBC's role as a public service broadcaster, the iPlayer is free to all Xbox 360 users - Gold and Free (formerly Silver). The BBC is the only UK content provider to make its programmes free to all 360 users in the UK.

The iPlayer is now on all three major home consoles: the PlayStation 3, the Wii and the Xbox 360. On Xbox it joins Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, Netflix, Lovefilm, Blinkbox, MSN and YouTube, among other non-gaming apps.

Its release on Xbox also means all of the apps mentioned in Microsoft's September 2011 announcement have launched. But what took so long?

"It's been well documented that the BBC, due to the unique way in which we're funded, have to make their services available wherever BBC iPlayer is for free," head of BBC iPlayer Dave Price told Eurogamer.

"It's been well documented that that's what we'd have to do as well for all Xbox audiences in the UK. So we were delighted to agree terms back in the summer and then announce in October to say we would be launching in early 2012 and here we are hitting that deadline as we said.

"Microsoft fully understood in order to make the service available, it had to be available to all Xbox users. That was something that was very much clear, and it's great Microsoft supported us to ensure we are available to all the millions of Xbox users."

Since the December 2011 Xbox 360 dashboard refresh, which introduced the Metro UI and Kinect functionality, Microsoft has seen a three-fold increase in TV and video consumption.

This, Xbox Live product manager Pav Bhardwaj told Eurogamer, hasn't come at the expense of gaming on the console.

"We haven't seen the amount of time being spent on multiplayer gaming, or Arcade games or DLC, being reduced at all," he said.

"We're seeing more people spending more time on the Xbox Live platform. The people who are using the platform to enjoy multiplayer gaming, like Call of Duty and Gears of War and Halo, they're still doing that at the same amount of time they were spending previously. What they're now doing is spending even more time watching TV, movies and sport, via their Xbox 360."

This increase, Bhardwaj said, reflects "how we all live our lives today".

"We're working god knows how many hours. You never get the chance to get home and watch the entertainment you want to watch when you want to watch it. So having the ability to watch on demand shows, TV, movies, sports, when you want to watch it, it makes the whole entertainment experience fit around you, rather than the other way around."

Backing this up, Bhardwaj said 42 per cent of Gold members watch an average of an hour of TV and movie content a day on the console. That's a global figure for Gold subscribers, but it's "reflective" of the UK market.

"We will continue to see a growth in that number in terms of how people are enjoying their entertainment on the Xbox Live platform," he continued. "It's great to see gaming and TV entertainment content isn't cannibalising one another. Actually, we're just growing the amount of time people are spending on the platform. We will see that grow. That's quite reflective of the overall market in terms of how people are now consuming content on their mobiles, tablets and the Xbox Live platform."

With its announced Xbox 360 apps all launched, what of the future? Over the next 12 months Microsoft will announce and release new apps for Xbox 360, Bhardwaj promised.

"There will be new applications coming down the line. We've got a pipeline of new stuff that's going to be available. Can't share any of it unfortunately. But there are some exciting applications and entertainment experiences that are coming."

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