Microsoft is said to be planning a web-based pay-TV service that it can build onto its Xbox Live platform in the USA.
The software company is in talks with two dozen content companies, as well as US companies Comcast and Verizon Communications, according to a Bloomberg report. The menu of programming will include music, movies, sport and TV shows.
Last week, the blog Digiday, citing anonymous sources, reported that Microsoft was nearing a deal with Comcast that would allow Xbox 360 owners to sign up for the cable provider's service and watch its programming from the game console. CNET blogger Don Reisinger wrote, "Microsoft unveiled its live-television service at the E3 gaming expo in June. Although the company provided few details on the service at the time, Microsoft said that it would 'partner with TV providers' for its offering."
Such a service sounds very similar to the local agreement that already exists between Xbox and Foxtel.
The Hollywood studios have long tried to persuade Microsoft to use Xbox Live and the company's successful Xbox video game console into taking a larger role in distributing content. Xbox Live already offers movies and TV shows for rent and purchase.
Bloomberg wrote that Microsoft also expects to sign licensing deals with Time Warner's HBO cable channel, Sony Pictures' Crackle streaming service and NBC Universal's Bravo network.
Microsoft is expected to make its live-TV service available in the US this spring.
While the existing Australian arrangements between Microsoft and Foxtel covers the same territory, Australian access to other new partners like HBO would be an exciting prospect.