updated 01:40 am EDT, Wed March 28, 2007
MS offers HD films on LIVE
Microsoft on Wednesday launched its own counter to Apple's new set-top device and iTunes with its new HDMI-enabled Xbox 360 Elite game console and new HD content offerings on Xbox LIVE--the Redmond-based company's internet-based gaming and media marketplace. Microsoft's announcement of HD movies from Paramount and Warner brothers upstages Apple's own iTunes offerings, which are currently only available in standard definition, despite the recent release of its HD-enabled Apple TV set-top box. The new, improved Xbox 360 Elite--a direct competitor to Apple TV--now offers a black wireless controller a matching black headset, HDMI output for resolution up to 1080i, and DVD playback with upscaling capability. The new Xbox LIVE internet marketplace will also add TV series and movies from A&E Network, ADV Films, National Geographic and TotalVid.com, augmenting the 1,500 hours of downloadable entertainment content already available in the US on Xbox LIVE.
According to the announcement, Paramount will offer, on Xbox LIVE, its high definition feature films, including "Braveheart," "Team America: World Police," "World Trade Center" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." In addition, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will be releasing its direct-to-video movies exclusively in high definition on Xbox LIVE simultaneous with their availability on DVD, starting with "Sublime" and later "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales."
"With more than 300 games expected by year's end, an Xbox LIVE community of more than 6 million people and a growing catalogue of premium content from some of the biggest names in entertainment today, Xbox 360 is an incredible value," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "Adding partners and content like this helps reinforce the console's position as the center of connected entertainment in the living room."
Challenging Apple's growing iTunes popularity, company said that downloads on Xbox LIVE have grown in double-digits, month-over-month, with a 400 percent increase since the service began offering TV shows and movies late last year.
Xbox LIVE, Microsoft said, offered the first-ever high definition episode of the No. 1 show on Comedy Central's network: "South Park: Good Times With Weapons" was downloaded more than 380,000 in a limited time release on Xbox LIVE. In addition, it said that Warner's promotional clips from "300" have been downloaded more than 477,000 times.
Xbox LIVE will offer A&E Network television shows, such as "Dog the Bounty Hunter," "King of Cars," "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," "Driving Force" and "Criss Angel Mindfreak." In addition, users will have access to the top offerings from ADV Films, No. 1 producer-distributor of Japanese animation ("anime") outside Japan.
National Geographic will offer the television series "Is It Real?" and "Taboo" as well as programs such as "21 Days to Baghdad" and "Air Force One," while TotalVid.com will deliver broad action-sports offering including extreme skiing and snowboarding, skateboarding, motocross, surfing and mountain biking.