Xbox to become download tool

Microsoft teams up with studios to allow shows and movies to be downloaded to TVs.

Published November 7, 2006

REDMOND, Wash. - Microsoft Corp. has teamed up with a handful of Hollywood studios to sell TV shows and movies that can be downloaded through the softwaremaker's Xbox Live online video game service and beamed straight onto television sets.

The company announced Monday that beginning Nov. 22, Xbox Live users with the latest console will be able to choose from shows including South Park, which airs on MTV's Comedy Central, CBS Corp.'s CSI and movies including Warner Bros.' V for Vendetta and Paramount Pictures' Mission Impossible III.

In addition to CBS, MTV Networks, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount, Microsoft has signed agreements with Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and Ultimate Fighting Championship, a privately held Las Vegas company that primarily broadcasts pay-per-view fights.

Financial terms of the partnerships were not disclosed.

Ross Honey, senior director of Microsoft's media, content and partner strategy group, estimated that 750 hours of programming would be available as soon as the service launches and roughly 1,000 hours by the end of the year.

The programming - most of it in standard-definition format and some in high-definition - will be available through the Xbox 360 console to any user of Xbox Live's free or paid online service, which allows gamers with broadband connections to send text or voice messages to each other, and watch movie trailers and other product demonstrations.

Microsoft hasn't said how much the downloads will cost, only that prices for programs broadcast in standard definition will be "competitive" with those offered by competitors, including Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Store, Movielink, CinemaNow and Amazon.com's Unbox.

TV shows through those services generally go for $1.99 per episode, while movie rentals generally cost about $3.99.