The Xbox 360 is perhaps our most beloved current generation gaming console, with millions of units sitting in millions of living rooms entertaining millions of gamers. But for all that the 360 is the platform of choice for players to devour blockbuster and indie game titles alike, its biggest draw may be for watching television.
Today, Microsoft gained three more ways to keep viewers hooked on their gaming consoles, with the long-awaited launches of HBO Go, MLB.tv and Comcast's Xfinity TV on-demand service on Xbox Live in the US. And according to Microsoft, non-gaming entertainment is indeed keeping Xbox owners glued to their consoles. They report that among Xbox Live subscribers, the percentage of time spent streaming video or music now exceeds the percentage of time spent playing online games.
Both online gaming and the use of media entertainment apps through Xbox Live continues to grow annually, Microsoft says, with use of Xbox Live as a whole up 30 per cent from last year. Use now averages 84 hours per month, of which just over half is now spent on streaming video and music services. That works out to an average of 42-45 hours, more or less. The average household, in comparison, still spends 150 hours per month watching TV.
The proliferation of streaming TV through consoles and other services continues to make many question if the demise of traditional cable is imminent, but for now at least that's not the case. The catch with the new offerings is that in order to use the apps, one must already be a subscriber to the apps' original services as well as Xbox Live Gold. There's no HBO Go without paying for HBO, and there's still no HBO without paying for cable. Likewise, the Xfinity service is only available to Comcast subscribers, and MLB.tv requires a monthly or yearly subscription of its own.
Watching the newest episode of A Game of Thrones or the Red Sox home opener may be more convenient through Xbox Live, for many viewers, but the entertainment apps remain an add-on, not a replacement, for most viewing.
Xbox now used more for online entertainment than online gaming [Los Angeles Times]