As if negotiating between MVPDs and programmers wasn’t complicated enough, new entrants, including gaming console makers, are in the market. Is the mission to be complementary or does their presence add to the over-the-top threat. Microsoft corporate vp, media & entertainment Blair Westlake assured us that Xbox comes in peace, while at the same time making it clear that it wants to be an entertainment one-stop shop.
Why is it important for you to be a player in the video space?
Our mission is it to make Xbox synonymous with entertainment, and TV, sports, movies and music are all important components of that experience. We already know that video is important to people who use Xbox—entertainment app usage globally on Xbox Live has more than doubled in the past year.
Are you more focused on doing deals with cable networks or with distributors like Comcast and Verizon FiOS?
Both. Our goal is to deliver all the entertainment content people want. Our partnerships with Comcast, AT&T and Verizon in the US, as well as BSkyB in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, Canal+ and Orange in France, Foxtel in Australia and Telus in Canada are prime examples of how we’re already working with leading providers of television services throughout the world. And we’re continuing to work with leading cable networks to launch apps like the ones we have available today, including HBO Go, NBC News and Today in the US, and BBC iPlayer in the UK.
Are gaming consoles more of a threat or an opportunity for traditional cable?
TV operators are our partners. We provide an additive service and choice when it comes to entertainment, enabling operators to deliver their services to new screens and new rooms in the house through Xbox Live.
Will the addition of over-the-top video, the cloud and more advanced gaming increase the life cycle of upcoming console releases?
We’re always thinking about what’s next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. With Xbox 360, we extended the lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and by refreshing the experience with new Xbox Live dashboards and new entertainment content partnerships. Unlike traditional living room devices, consoles are powerful and easily upgraded.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about video gamers?
The notion that everyone using Xbox is a male between the ages of 18-24. Today we’re seeing a more diverse audience playing video games and also turning to Xbox for a wider selection of entertainment experiences. Our goal is to offer something for everyone—the greatest lineup of blockbuster games and a service that features the best entertainment choices.