updated 10:00 am EDT, Tue March 27, 2012
MLB joins cable on Xbox 360
Microsoft took its promised Comcast Xfinity TV and HBO Go support live on the Xbox 360 Tuesday with the extra addition of MLB.tv. Akin to the ESPN app, it gives users the option of watching live and on-demand events, albeit live only for out-of-market games. Kinect owners have the extra advantage of motion and voice commands that can sometimes speed up the action.
Viewers can track specific teams and get a tray that will show active games with a quick way to switch between them. As expected, they can dig deeper into teams and standings.
Access requires an MLB.tv Premium subscription, which costs either $25 per month or $125 for a whole year. The sign-up gives access on the desktop, iOS and Android devices, and other media hubs like the Apple TV.
HBO Go (not yet pictured) provides access to virtually the entire premium channels catalog. Xfinity TV is an incomplete picture, but includes HBO, Starz, Comcast's own Streampix, and other premium services on top of basic TV and some on-demand content. Either can take Kinect control.
Both the Comcast and HBO options need authentication with an existing TV subscription, but they don't carry any existing penalty. Comcast's Xfinity TV doesn't affect a user's 250GB cap, purportedly because it uses Comcast's private network rather than going to the Internet.
The three additions come just as Microsoft has said that music and video had "surpassed multiplayer games usage" on the Xbox 360, making gaming now a secondary if important feature. The original Xbox had been launched in 2001 as a gaming-first device, but Microsoft's interests have shifted over the years as the early success of Netflix on the Xbox 360 led it to quickly expand and see the Xbox as a way into the living room. Microsoft had tried this with PCs through Windows Media Center, but the cost of a PC and the complexity of a desktop OS prevented it from taking off.