Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

Summary: Microsoft is reportedly adding services from two major cable providers to its Xbox Live line-up, which begs the question: Do we even need cable boxes anymore?

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Microsoft is reportedly negotiating deals with approximately two dozen providers of music, sports, movies and TV shows in the United States and Europe for the purpose of expanding its Xbox Live streaming service, according to Bloomberg.

That announcement could come by next week (and could coincide with the potential debut of a cheaper Zune Music Pass). What's more intriguing is that Bloomberg says that Microsoft is in talks with Comcast and Verizon to bring their paid-television services to the Xbox as well.

If that turns out to be true, pretty soon, cable boxes could end being set aside in place of gaming consoles. After all, who wants two boxes and more wires when they could just have one?

Gaming consoles are on track to become the center of the home entertainment system because they alone (at least for now) have the power to offer consumers HD and advanced gaming, movies, photos and more all in one compact system.

Devices such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (as well as set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV) offer an incredible amount of video content, whether it be new or old. That has been made possible thanks to apps from the likes of Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and most of the major sports leagues, among others. Now, if you could get live, cable TV on one of these systems as well, then that just completes the package.

Of course, this isn't exactly happening yet, and there are a few obvious roadblocks.

First, if Microsoft really does bring on Comcast’s Xfinity TV service and Verizon’s FiOs platform, users would have to prove that they are already pay for these subscriptions, which suggests that that they still need to have the cable boxes -- at least for the time being unless Microsoft announces that they can buy subscriptions directly through Xbox Live.

But then there's another barrier -- you'd have to pay for the Xbox Live service, which ranges in price based on monthly, quarterly and yearly rates. So this route definitely wouldn't be cheaper, and it won't clear up the clutter of boxes on your TV stand immediately. But it is pointing in the direction of consolidating content sources in the living room.

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Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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39 comments
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  • Not gonna happen

    Cable companies like their strong hold on customers. They will NOT relinquish cable boxes for a long long time. Cable companies have become telco's which are notoriously slow to adapt, upgrade, and innovate.

    Maybe we'll see something solid and reasonably functional in 3yrs, and not limited to a specific test region. Then in yr 6, we'll see some market adoption...
    But the world is going to end in Dec 2012, so who cares?
    unredeemed
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @unredeemed
      >>But the world is going to end in Dec 2012, so who cares?
      LOL. :D
      Ram U
      • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

        @Rama.NET I think it's science fiction.
        <a href="http://www.kecioyun.com" rel="muse">oyun</a>
        oyungame
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @unredeemed
      Yeah, according to Al Gore we're all doomed in 2012 and he's been right about everything so far... Right?
      dbkfrog
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @unredeemed Cable companies have already recognized the threat and have responded by creating bandwidth limitations and charging prices (for the same service) that are 2-3x higher than they were 3 years ago for anything that is streaming capable. I should know, as I tried to renew a contract with my cable company and they literally went OVER DOUBLE the cost of what I originally had for the same internet service. Comcast blows (figured I'd name drop).

      The reality is that we are already seeing a rising shift in the way people acquire their media. I no longer go to a store to buy an album, I buy the mp3 from Amazon. I no longer go to Blockbuster for a DVD, I purchase/rent it from Vudu. I do still subscribe to Satellite, but I lived the past two years with nothing but Netflix. Netflix is dying because the content providers don't want to play nice, but some big dogs are looking to move in (Microsoft/Amazon), and the cable companies are just going to shift their disgusting pricing on TV to internet.

      XFinity... wow... a name change where everything jumps to double the price. Most people don't even pay attention to the shift that's happening, but sooner or later, you'll find that you are paying just as much for internet as you used to for cable. That is, of course, unless we start getting some more competition in the high end internet arena. What ever happened to "Google high speed internet?"
      thoiness
      • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

        @thoiness
        Comcast doesnt have contracts so not sure what your talking about but yes they do rate hike as Originally I signed up at $99 a month for about 500 cable channels 10Mbps internet and unlimited phone no long distance. I now pay about $135 a month same services except my cable internet speed has now gone to 50Mbps and I know can watch all my cable channels I subscribe to via my cell phone tablet or anywhere I have internet connections. Im in the Chicago area..They have though added limits to bandwidth as I was unlimited but now I get throttled at 500 GB a month and they do monitor downloads as I have gotten my warning letters about certain movies that studios felt lets say not happy seen downloaded lol.I have an extra pc tower hooked via hdmi to my 65 inch living room tv so i have full internet acces with wireless keyboard and mouse so extra content and such along with gaming is full on ready.
        Fletchguy
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @unredeemed +1 For the World Ending
      Slurpdog
  • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

    I have a problem with this line.<br><br>"So this route definitely wouldnt be cheaper, and it wont clear up the clutter of boxes on your TV stand immediately."<br><br>Xbox live is 60 dollars a year (if you buy it a year at a time, anyways. Not to mention a number of deals you can get, like Amazon which is currently selling 12 months for 48.). Basic Cable from Comcast here in Arkansas is 45 dollars a month. Add 8 dollars on top of that if you want HD, and even more on top of that if you want a DVR. It would be way cheaper if I could totally switch to Xbox Live for television.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @Aerowind

      Keep in mind that you still need an ISP connection to do this. With Comcast, they charge MORE for Internet when you don't have the TV subscription. Like $10 a month more for slower service. This leaves us with the only other option of DSL and even though naked DSL is supposed to be available, try ordering it from your local telco and get the run around or hard sell for a phone line.
      cowboys2000
      • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

        @cowboys2000 : Two contrary points:
        1. Comcast is offering Internet only at my location for LESS than if I include cable - Introductory price of $15 - and goes up to $25 the second year.
        2. I know several folks in my area who have naked DSL, and had no problem at all getting it.
        OTOH, it really does depend on your location and provider(s). Verizon has been generally a lot less cooperative in my "alternate location" than AT&T has proven to be in my "major location". YMMV
        Willnott
  • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

    I'm all for this. Right now I'm being charged $7 a month for a cable box I didn't want. When I changed to a new plan they gave me the box so I told them I didn't want it and will hook directly into the tv. They told me I had to get the box with that package.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
  • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

    We don't need cable boxes....but the cable companies do.

    It would be a huge dent in their $ gross income to stop leasing boxes.
    eunjam
    • $17 a month in my case

      @eunjam - I recently built an HTPC out of an unused box I had sitting around by adding a decent HDMI video card ($50), a 2 TB hard drive ($60), and a CableCard tuner ($150, two tuners). Throw in a ClearQAM card I had sitting around, and I have a DVR with three tuners and approximately 300 hours of HD storage that passed the wife approval test. My cable bill dropped $17 this month just by returning the cable company's DVR with its laughable 12 hours of HD storage. $20/month for a DVR, or $2/month for a CableCard? Now you know why the cable companies had to have rules forced upon them to even the playing field.
      jrf2027@...
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @eunjam <br><br>Nickel and Dime Nickel and Dime...is the way corporations work these days. You and I bend over and they reap the benefits! I propose they you pay for what you use. If I only watch 48hrs in a month then I pay $5. I pay a crap load to Direct TV about $100 a month on avg and I probably only watch about $30 worth.
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

    You know, if the price was right I'd dump my expensive cable for this, especially if it included the XBL sub. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of traditional cable companies.

    POLL: Would you subscribe to an Xbox TV Service?
    Vote: http://www.wepolls.com/p/3206376
    zadocpaet
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      iwdy23
  • DOA!

    won't be adopted unless it runs on Linux.
    Nobody trusts M$!
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @The Linux Geek Nobody trusts Microsoft? If that's true, why are they selling so many XBoxes or copies of Windows and Office?

      The average person doesn't even know Linux exists.
      wrcousert
  • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

    Wow, lots of M$ a$$ kissers here. Anyway I'll stick to cable box as will many others - gaming does not appeal to the majority of people out there!
    champions_league
    • RE: Cable boxes could be rendered useless by gaming consoles

      @champions_league

      This is just piss poor logic. The first thing you have to understand is that the Xbox 360 is the best selling console in this very region the last 14 of 15 months (by a huge margin). The US is now considered Xbox country. MS has also been selling Xboxes to both casual and NON GAMERS due to Kinect and its media functionality (PC streaming, Facebook, video and party chats, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN etc). These people already use their Xbox for entertainment other than gaming and Live TV would only enhance that. Like the author said, why switch back and forth between cable and console when your console can already do it? We as consumers don't want many boxes under our TVs taking up space and dealing with all the cable wire and channel inputs that come along with that. The more functionality we can fit into a single box - the better. If MS can provide me TV I already pay for in a better box that's also better integrated (Xbox Live), then sign me up.
      timotim