Microsoft is planning to reveal its Xbox LIVE subscription TV service at E3, WinRumors has learned.
The software giant is close to finishing a key number of components for its full Xbox LIVE subscription TV service. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans revealed to WinRumors that the company is readying a demo for E3. The company is on lockdown for its big announcement and some demos and details might be held back if agreements are not in place in time. “Microsoft is currently in last minute negotiations to secure the necessary agreements in time,” said our anonymous source. “Apple is in a similar position, speaking to several media groups ahead of its iCloud announcement on Monday.”
Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE Diamond TV service has been rumored for months. Codenamed Orapa, the service combines the company’s mediaroom IPTV services and Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE services. Microsoft is likely to demo deeper integration of its Avatar Kinect service and the company’s new music and video services. Microsoft’s corporate vice president of corporate communications, Frank Shaw, revealed that Xbox will be the company’s entertainment brand earlier this week. Shaw highlighted Microsoft’s investments with ESPN, Netflix and Hulu.
Microsoft has been in talks with media companies to produce the TV service for its Xbox console. Microsoft is proposing a “virtual cable operator” which will be delivered over the Internet and charged with a monthly fee. The software maker has also suggested that cable companies could use the Xbox as a device to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows and interact with their Xbox LIVE friends. Microsoft offers a similar service in the UK where Sky customers can use their Xbox LIVE avatars during sporting events. Xbox LIVE Diamond subscribers will likely be charged a premium subscription cost (think monthly) which includes access to the Xbox LIVE Gold features and streaming TV. The streaming TV service will include content from U.S. operators but our source was unsure whether it would be available internationally.
Xbox LIVE Diamond found its named based on a small town in the Central District of Botswana. Orapa is the site of one of the biggest diamond mines in the world. Microsoft previously introduced an Xbox LIVE Diamond card in December, 2005. The card gave Xbox LIVE paid subscribers exclusive access to benefits and discounts from stores, restaurants and retailers. The card was eventually discontinued.
Microsoft could also be planning to release a number of “Fusion” branded products as early as next week. The software giant has trademarked Fusion Vault, Fusion Genesis and Fusion Sentient and also owns xboxfusion.com. Microsoft is also working on “Ventura”, a set of services being developed by the company’s Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit. The services will focus on music and video discovery and consumption. “Ventura” also appears to run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud hosting. Little is known about “Ventura” and how it fits into the company’s Xbox LIVE Diamond and Zune services.
Microsoft tried to woo Conan O’Brien into its Xbox LIVE subscription TV service last year. The software giant refuses to comment on reports of a TV subscription however. Microsoft is planning to make Xbox LIVE Diamond available in November.