New Zune-branded video streaming subscription coming to Xbox LIVE?

Xbox LIVE is no stranger to video content, offering a range of options to enjoy movies and TV, including third-party content via the likes of Netflix; partnerships with cable and satellite TV companies such as AT&T’s U-Verse in the US, and Sky Player in the UK; and of course, the ability to stream from other devices through Windows Media Center Extender capabilities.

Microsoft also provides video content to Xbox LIVE through its Zune Video Marketplace, allowing users to rent or purchase individual videos on demand.  A report from The Daily suggests that Microsoft is now gearing up to significantly enhance its video services through Xbox LIVE with a new Zune-branded video subscription service in an attempt to capitalize on the success enjoyed by other content providers, such as Hulu and Netflix, on the gaming platform.

It’s been known since early last year that Microsoft intended to consolidate its Xbox LIVE video offering into a more streamlined and user-friendly Video Marketplace - a move which actually began with the introduction of Zune Video to Xbox LIVE in 2009, but which hasn't significantly changed or improved since then, although the new Xbox dashboard and UI previewed at E3 at last signals some welcome changes to how this content might be better presented to users. 

Last month, rumours were swirling about a new ‘Xbox LIVE Diamond’ package that includes a subscription TV service, and although that service was not announced at E3 as many had expected, it appears that such a service could still appear in some form later this year. Indeed, WinRumors is still expecting a Diamond package to appear, featuring subscription access to TV, video and music services. Microsoft already offers subscription-based music access through Zune Pass, and an expansion of this offering to incorporate video content certainly sounds like a credible move given what is known about Microsoft’s plans for turning Xbox into a brand with a broader focus on entertainment as a whole, rather than purely a gaming experience.  

The new video service is also expected to include elements from ‘Ventura’, a Microsoft development project aimed at improving and enhancing discoverability of video and music content across multiple devices, and will likely be integrated with the new Live TV and Bing Search features that were officially announced for Xbox LIVE at E3.

However, The Daily’s report certainly contradicts many other reports in recent months that suggest the Zune brand is due to be retired soon, with its music and video services being folded into the Xbox brand instead.  But regardless of how these services might be branded, the prospect of a more intuitive and integrated TV, music, and video service from Microsoft – potentially extending across Xbox consoles, Windows Phone 7 devices and even onto PCs and tablets through Xbox LIVE integration in Windows 8 – is a very exciting one indeed.  

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I'm not so sure about this. It sounds like it would completely compete with Netflix, who happens to have a spot on Microsoft's Board of Directors. It's obviously a conflict of interest, considering this is Netflix's cash cow, which is why I thought they would avoid this unless the planned to buy Netlfix...

Quikboy said,
I'm not so sure about this. It sounds like it would completely compete with Netflix, who happens to have a spot on Microsoft's Board of Directors. It's obviously a conflict of interest, considering this is Netflix's cash cow, which is why I thought they would avoid this unless the planned to buy Netlfix...

which isn't a completely insane idea.

You know what, they should include BBC iPlayer for a few additional $, and pass that on to BBC, would save BBC making their own iplayer softwares... which happen to all only be for the iDevices.

Well, that might be an option internationally (especially as the first stages of global iPlayer deployment are beginning), but that wouldn't be an option in the UK, where iPlayer is available free at the point of use to all television licence fee payers.

Also worth pointing out that the BBC would still be responsible for the development costs of any iPlayer portal available through Xbox LIVE - just because it's available on Xbox doesn't mean Microsoft foots the bill for it. Microsoft could license BBC content for distribution as part of a subscription package, but that's different to 'including iPlayer' - iPlayer is a distribution platform with multiple access points (apps and portals available on various devices), but iPlayer and the content that it distributes are not really the same thing.

One last point - iPlayer software isn't only available for iDevices. When iPlayer debuted, it was exclusively for Windows PCs (and its entire development and testing, during which it was known as BBC iMP, or 'interactive media player', were also exclusive to Windows). These days, in addition to being available on Windows PCs and iOS devices, it's also available on Android, BlackBerry, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Windows-based PMPs, Virgin Media and BT Vision television services, and dozens of internet-enabled TVs, STBs and Blu-Ray players.

That's quite a lot more than just 'for the iDevices'.

I love the Zune platform and wish it did better, but the Xbox brand is a household name. Zune isn't. Might as well fold it in to X and call it a day. Music, videos and gaming are all entertainment-centric and Xbox encompasses all these things now. Might as well go with what's winning and dump what's losing.

The Zune brand being retired was only a stupid rumor. Zune is actually a really strong brand with a large fanbase... it just wasn't pushed out marketing wise as much as it should have been.

This new rumour sounds more realistic to me... all things music/movies (entertainment) belong under the Zune brand and Xbox being a platform (1 of the 3 screens) and of course all things related to gaming. So it makes sense to keep Zune as an entertainment service on all platforms and keep Xbox brand as it is.

j2006 said,
The Zune brand being retired was only a stupid rumor. Zune is actually a really strong brand with a large fanbase... it just wasn't pushed out marketing wise as much as it should have been.

This new rumour sounds more realistic to me... all things music/movies (entertainment) belong under the Zune brand and Xbox being a platform (1 of the 3 screens) and of course all things related to gaming. So it makes sense to keep Zune as an entertainment service on all platforms and keep Xbox brand as it is.

hardware was being retired.. which it pretty much has.. zune originals has been cancelled on the microsoft site.. the brand will live on just not the zune hd..

nice.. i could totally see them doing this since it follows the zune pass idea.. would be neat if they did a similar thing where you could watch unlimited movie and you get to keep like 1 a month.. would be more expensive then netflix but would be nice to know that you can actually get something physical for your money

Lachlan said,
nice.. i could totally see them doing this since it follows the zune pass idea.. would be neat if they did a similar thing where you could watch unlimited movie and you get to keep like 1 a month.. would be more expensive then netflix but would be nice to know that you can actually get something physical for your money

I doubt we'll see unlimited movie streaming, unless it's for old content. But I can see it being like unlimited music, music videos, and TV shows. I would pay for that. The outlook also looks good for a family package since it already exists with Gold, and the Zune Pass is in dire need of that.

wixostrix said,

I doubt we'll see unlimited movie streaming, unless it's for old content. But I can see it being like unlimited music, music videos, and TV shows. I would pay for that. The outlook also looks good for a family package since it already exists with Gold, and the Zune Pass is in dire need of that.


Unlimited music and TV steaming (like Hulu Plus) for 15/month on XBOX and computer would be sweet.

wixostrix said,

I doubt we'll see unlimited movie streaming, unless it's for old content. But I can see it being like unlimited music, music videos, and TV shows. I would pay for that. The outlook also looks good for a family package since it already exists with Gold, and the Zune Pass is in dire need of that.

I think it's doable if they can cut deals like netflix does, movies might be limited compared to netflix but tv shows shouldn't be hard etc. People have been asking for a Zune Pass that covers Videos as well, this sounds like that dream might come true.