November 9, 2006
Xbox 360 Provides New Opportunities for Cross-Platform Distribution

Here's the latest in plans for cross-platform distribution:

Two of our partners here in the Convergence Culture Consortium, MTV Networks and Turner Broadcasting, have finalized deals with Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console to distribute various programs through the gaming platform.

For Turner, the plan is for programs from the popular Adult Swim programming bloc of The Cartoon Network, as well as content from Nascar's Web site (also run by Turner) for use for gamers who have the Xbox Live Silver subscription. To access this cross-platform content, users must have broadband Internet connection for their Xbox 360.

Nascar's content will be its online show Race Rewind, while popular shows Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken, and Sealab 2021 are planned to be distributed from Adult Swim.

MTV Networks has plans for content from several of its channels, including MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, and Spike TV.

Also included in the deal is CBS and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (mixed martial arts). In all, more than 1,000 hours of content have already been planned. The content for Microsoft Live Marketplace also includes select feature films from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers. Content will be available on both standard definition and high-definition.

See the original press release here.

The plan is for the Marketplace to launch on the console's first birthday on Nov. 22.

According to supadupagama, the movies will cost approximately $6 apiece (480 Microsoft points) for high-definition and $4 (320 points) for standard definition, while all television shows will be $3 (240 points).

The High Definition Blog points out that "Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console to bring standard and HD TV shows and movies to the customer via digital distribution over the Internet," and also notes that Microsoft has beaten Apple in offering HD content via download.

Spencer Yip with Siliconera writes, "Forget blu-ray this and HD-DVD that, Microsoft is sidestepping the format war and turning the box 360 into a digital download station."

For cross-platform distribution, the move is a major one. While I know plenty of people have already taken Xbox and other consoles and reworked them to become distributors of other content, Microsoft has now officially transformed the Xbox into a platform for movies and film. My guess is that, while Turner Broadcasting and MTV Networks, along with CBS, UFC, and the movie studios, are the early users, that as long as this is successful, we will see a race for additional content from these partners as well as myriad others. Think about how quickly Apple added on content once the snowball started rolling down the hill.

This will probably inspire quite a bit of writing about cross-platform over the next few months.