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Xbox Live To Get HD Downloads

Microsoft has announced a plan to bring high-definition video downloads of TV shows and movies to Xbox Live, starting on November 22 (the first birthday of the system).

Xbox Live will feature downloads both to own and to rent, with content from CBS (including CSI, Survivor, Jericho, Numb3ers, Star Trek), MTV (Real World and Pimp My Ride), Paramount Pictures (Mission Impossible III, Nacho Libre, Jackass the Movie), TBS, Ultimate Fighting Chamionship (50 classic matches and episodes of The Ultimate Fighter), Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (The Matrix, Superman Returns, Batman Forever), NASCAR (select Nextel Cup races), Adult Swim (Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force), Comedy Central (South Park and Chappelle’s Show), Nickelodeon (SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar, plus Nicktoons content), Spike TV (Carpocalypse and Raising the Roofs), and VH1 (Breaking Bonaduce and Hogan Knows Best).

The initial linelup is excellent, albeit careful in many cases, a test to see if the system takes off. Warner’s offerings are great, and most seem to have been picked to target Xbox’s young male audience. Hopefully, the studios will realize that there’s also a market for “girlfriend who doesn’t want to the Xbox” downloads, and add some diversity in the future, but this is great for launch.

Movies will be 24-hour rentals, viewable within 14 days of downloading. TV shows will be sales. So, given that these will be not just downloads, but HD downloads, how the hell is your XBox 360 going to fit everything? The answer: The XBox Live November update. That update enabled streaming of video from Media Player 11 and Media Connect PCs, data CDs and DVDs, USB hard drives/flash drives, and Xbox 360 memory units. Pick up a super-low-priced external hard drive this holiday season, and you should be just fine.

Okay, you can’t download to external drives. They really aren’t thinking, are they? Still, downloads of TV shows can be redownloaded, and movies are rental anyway, so maybe you won’t need much space. Downloads will be offered in standard and high-def, in WMVHD format.

HD movies should run 4-5 gigabytes, while TV shows should run 1/2.2 gigabytes (half or one hour). Standard-definition movies will likely run 1.6 gigs, and TV shows will be 600/300 megabytes. Engadget has a preview of the interface, which features branded channels, video sorting, previews of content, and a hint at pricing (320 MS Points for a one-hour HD TV episode, 240 for standard-def).

No word yet on pricing, just that it will be in Microsoft Points. Also, no word on how Apple plans to market a $300 device that does everything the 360 can, except play games, store media locally, exist without a PC, and communicate with others.

November 7th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | one comment
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1 Comment »

  1. The DRM headache continues, I assume?

    Funny to see Microsoft indirectly admitting that High Definition content can fit perfectly on a single layer DVD, though. No need for the next generation of DRMs, er, discs.

    Comment by Tim | 11/7/2006

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