The Seattle Times reported the new agreements with several networks (including CBS, TBS and MTV), Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers "to bring an initial lineup of more than 1,000 hours of hit television shows and movies to Xbox 360 consoles" starting November 22nd, with to bring standard and HD TV content via the Internet.
"It announced plans to offer movie rentals and full purchases of television shows, joining Apple Computer, Amazon.com and other rivals in vying for the "what do you want to watch tonight?" entertainment dollar.
"By year-end, the service is to have at least 1,000 hours of television programs and movies from partners that include the CBS and MTV networks, Turner Broadcasting System, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment."
It's the HD CBS content and remastered Star Trek episodes that put this as a top reason to add an Xbox 360 beyond the family room, in addition to Avatar: The Last Airbender, SpongeBob SquarePants. For the kids, of course. When you consider that the Hollywood Reporter notes that there are "4 million Xbox Live members worldwide that have downloaded more than 70 million pieces of gaming and such shortform entertainment content as music videos and movie trailers during the 11 months Marketplace has been available," that's an incredible installed base, a comparison that is hard to match in other traditional DVR and entertainment distribution services.
For others, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races from Race Rewind, "50 of its most intense fights" from the Ultimate Fighting Championship and more.
As ABC News reports, Xbox will add the Video Marketplace to the Xbox Live experience, using Microsoft Points as used in Xbox Live Arcade, Marketplace and Zune all use. As noted in Variety, "Microsoft hasn't revealed its pricing plans, but Xbox Live is expected to be competitive with other VOD sites, ranging from 99¢ for some TV shows up to $4.99 for the newest pics. High-def pics may cost $1 or $2 more to rent."
My main concern: the current 20GB hard drive on the Xbox 360 is too small in traditional terms of digital video recorders compared with the current crop of DVRs available today. For the casual viewer, maybe, but not if you're looking to download a couple of HD TV shows and a movie or two. In our home, 30 to 40GB of space is the minimum.
Troy Wolverton of the Mercury News said that "given that the Xbox 360's hard drive holds just 20 gigabytes of data, customers will be able to store only about five hours of high-definition or 15 to 17 hours of standard-definition video, far less than a typical digital video recorder."
So some analysts predict that there will be a new larger HDD come January:
"Richard Doherty, an industry pundit with the Seaford, N.Y., firm Envisioneering, ... predicted Microsoft will soon announce larger hard drives for the console, perhaps at the Consumer Electronics Show in January."
More details are available on the Xbox.com site.