Xbox 360 will soon allow American gamers to buy TV shows and rent films thanks to licensing agreements for standard- and high-definition content signed with major TV and film companies.
Announced last night, the deal will kick in on 22nd November and see 360 owners in the US able to download the likes of South Park, remastered Star Trek episodes and films like The Matrix and Superman Returns in either 480p or 720p resolution.
Everything will be paid for through Xbox Live Marketplace and saved to the hard disk, with estimates suggesting a high-def film will occupy 5GB of space. In the case of the film rentals, the files will stick around on the drive for two weeks, and delete themselves within 24 hours of viewing.
Browsing Marketplace, potential buyers will be able to preview episodes and watch film trailers to help make their minds up. It will also be possible to watch videos as they download thanks to buffering technology.
For now the deal only covers the US, with Microsoft striking up agreements with CBS, MTV, Paramount, Turner Broadcasting, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Warner Bros., and aiming to deliver up to 1,000 hours of content by the end of 2006 - 200 of which will be in 720p.
However it leaves some questions unanswered, most significantly those of what approach the company will take outside its homeland, and whether this will expedite the announcement of a higher-capacity hard disk add-on. (Also, on the QT, whether it will be possible to do the "US Live account" trick to gain access closer to home.)
While we wait for someone to get round to those, here are some of the highlights of the content deals Microsoft has signed:
- "Robot Chicken" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" from Adult Swim
- "CSI," "Survivor" and [re-mastered] "Star Trek" from CBS
- Emmy and Peabody Award-Winning "South Park" and "Chappelle’s Show" from COMEDY CENTRAL
- "The Real World" and "Pimp My Ride" from MTV
- "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" from Nickelodeon
- "Skyland" and "The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival" from Nicktoons Network
- "Nacho Libre" and "Jackass: The Movie" from Paramount Pictures
- "Carpocalypse" and "Raising the Roofs" from Spike TV
- "Race Rewind" provided by NASCAR.COM
- Select episodes of the original season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series and the "UFC: All Access" shows from the UFC
- "Breaking Bonaduce" and "Hogan Knows Best" from VH1
- "The Matrix," "Superman Returns" and "Batman Forever" from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment